Wow, hard to believe we have journeyed through the Cloud from different cities, provinces, countries, and time zones for the past four months to arrive to a point where EC&I 831 Fall 2011 is a wrap! Have I reached my final destination? Absolutely not! For me much of the journey has been to explore new forms of social media, new Web 2.0 tools for the specific purpose of breaking down many of the biases and misconceptions surrounding these tools in the world of education. These biases held by parents, teachers, school administrations and the general public are ones that I have shared when the weekend fight plays out in the classrooms and hallways of the school in the form of bullying, harassment, breech of privacy, and plagiarism. How could I as an administrator endorse and promote the lifting of restrictions on Facebook and Twitter, and the relaxing of rules and procedures pertaining to personal electronic devices? Would chaos ensure? Would my veteran teachers revolt? Would the IT”s refuse to take my calls? Would my parent community have confidence in my abilities to protect their children form cyber predators?
My goal was to find practical ways to harness the potential of open sources and social media in the educational setting while still respecting the boundaries between public and private, professional and student. Was it possible? Happily, the answer is yes! The key, as it is for any successful lesson, was preparation. Step one was to prepare myself by experimenting more with Word Press Blogs and Twitter. The second step was to prepare the students. To that end, I created several resources on netiquette and digital citizenship. The third step was to invite teachers along for the ride. I was fortunate in that many of my younger staff members were eager, simply waiting my stamp of approval. They in turn served as mentors for other teachers in their departments who were interested in coming along for the ride. I created a Blog resource – Caught Up in the Web! that provided even more resources, tutorials, lessons, and suggestions for implementation. This lead to my being invited into the classrooms, lunch hour in services, and a concerted effort by many of our subject areas to further develop technology goals around social media. So far so good. I even received a thumb’s up from my Community School Council. Are there still issues regarding social media and its misuse by our students? Yes, but I am happy to say that it is not in the context of its use for learning. My hope is as they become more familiar with the protocols and responsibilities of digital citizens I will in fact see an improvement!
So, my final summary of learning is a Prezi. For those of you who love this jazzed up version of a PowerPoint, but are disappointed by the fact that it does not allow an audio component, might I suggest using a video screen cast program as well? I used Techsmith’s Jing. It is a free program that allows you to capture screen shots and add comments and embed them as well as video up to five minutes in length. For an extra $15/year you can upgrade to a Pro account which allows you to link directly to Facebook, Twitter, and with one click, upload to Youtube. Check out my video below:
If you have any other great ways of creating and uploading videos let me know! In particular I’m looking for a free resource with editing capabilities.