Final Mutterings and Musings…

Alas, my journey through EC&I 834 is almost complete! On the eve of my Blog due date I will take one last opportunity to reflect on Blogs, their use in the classroom and provide a few murmers regarding  my personal journey and venturings through  Web 2.0 and  Web 3.0. 
On the subject of Blogs – I am extremely impressed with the versatility as well the user friendly design of WordPress. There is enough variety in themes and designs to satisfy the creative bent of almost anyone, and for those of us less technologically adept, it is intuitive providing adequate help resources to make design, navigation, and management easy.  My regret in this class, was my inability to keep reading and following the Blogs of my fellowclassmates (the curse of summer session courses – so much to do, so little time!!) However, from my visits I observed the variety of structures, designs and content. I think this proves to me that this would be a great way to engage a class of students for a semester. In this era of social networking, a blog to support course work would provide a distance forum for peer conversation and reflection on the topics and content of the learning, deepening understandings. The potential for peer feedback, tutoring, and peer assessment is very exciting!  It also would satisfy the needs of students who miss chunks of the course work and instruction due to absenteeism. Beyond a teacher maintained Blog, an interesting project might be for students to design Blogs which would serve as online journals (such as this assignment did for me) chronicling their course work. They could post assignments, provide reflections, pose questions and do some self-assessment on their academic growth. I have several teachers in my school using Blogger, but I have already introduced them to WordPress as I feel it offers even greater resources for classroom use.
As for some further reflections on this course, I was delighted at the practical use of the content. I had used some of the applications prior to the class (Voicethread, Prezi) however, my confidence in using these has grown. I used Jing the other day to captures a problem with the scheduling program, emailed it to tech support and  quickly recieved an email back with the “fix”.  I also used Jing when I was building next year’s timetable,  capturing changes I was making so I could keep as a log if I needed to reverse the process. It was a very practical use of the application and far more informative than a simple screenshot.
Finally, I am amazed that I had not paid more attention to WebQuests when I was a classroom teacher. What an efficient and effect use of internet resources and a great way to differentiate instruction!  I was extremely blessed to have such great group partners in Lisa and Pam who shared their many skills and insights with me as we continue to build and edit our WebQuest. We are really enjoying our cross-curricular Webquest project and I know I have learned much from them which has informed my teaching practice and my technology skills! Thanks Pamliskel – here is to our “three weird sisters”!!

Webquest Explorations

Long before Wikis, Blogs, and Twitter; WebQuests were the buzzword surrounding the internet and education. Somehow I missed out – joining the technology train long after the WebQuest was so “yesterday.” I was thrilled in discovering during this module that WebQuests were in many ways the digital version of my resource based research group projects which I often used to introduce topics or culminate learnings at the end of a novel study.  My issue in using traditional hard copy resources from the school library, was finding a way to share and manage these resources.
The other fantastic feature of the well crafted WebQuest is  that it  utilizes all web resources which are availabe anytime, anywhere. There are no concerns regarding sign out, loan periods, or access. The perennial problem or excuse of “forgetting it at home or at school” is eliminated.  The other fantastic feature of the well crafted WebQuest is the way it manages student time on task. The student does not waste an entire period surfing search engines trying to find appropriate resources, nor does he/she wander around the abyss of absract and vague assignments and topics. If the teacher provides the links and allows student choice within these provided resources, there is the assurance that they are grade and subject appropriate and are valid and authentic sources of information.
To find out more about WebQuests and my group project with Pam Spock and Lisa Frei, please visit my WebQuest and Instructional Design Page.