The Gateway into 2.o

I was just listening to the most recent podcast of David Warlick(Connect Learning, Episode #93). Part of the discussion revolved around what part of the 2.o world would you introduce others to. That is a fantastic question. I am planning a Web 2.0 staff development session and I have given this some thought prior to David’s episode. With so many great tools out there, where does one begin?

Well I have been using del.icio.us for some time now and that is a great social bookmarking site. You can easily set up a del.icio.us account and begin to use it right away with students. More importantly you can have students set-up their own accounts for topics they are studying in school. Tags can be set up anyway you like. I have created tags by subject, topic of study, and even general (i.e.-education). But I don’t think I can start there.

How about creating a blog to start? You can sign up with WordPress and be off and blogging in no time flat. There are many other blog sites out there (Edublogs, Blogger, etc.) that one can use. I like the ease of WordPress and until I learn more about writing code, I will stay with their site as opposed to going to wordpress.org and hosting the blog on my own site. But before you blog, you need to see the power of blogging.

Voicethread popped right into my head. I love it! I think it has great potential in schools. I created a thread recently on rounding of whole numbers. I feel the true power in this is not from what the teachers give to the students but what the students can give to the world. Tim Fahlberg over at Math247 has had teachers and students create many threads that can be accessed. All of his threads are related to mathematics. I don’t think I would start with Voicethread though.

I am just beginning to understand Twitter. In 140 characters or less, let people know what is going on. In just the past couple of weeks, I have come across many tiny urls that have taken my learning in a different direction. Just recently I saw a Tweet (that is what it is called when you send an update) from Jeff Utecht informing me about a new 2.0 tool Buzzword.

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I don’t think I would start with Twitter, although it is fantastic.

Wikis are a great tool that I am using in both my professional and personal lives. A couple of sites that host wikis include pbwiki and wikispaces. Wiki is a shortened version of the actual name, wiki-wiki, which means quick in Hawaiian. I like to think of wikis as “editable” websites. Depending on how you set it up (public or private) anyone or only invited people will be able to edit the site. I don’t think I would start here either.

I may start with an RSS aggregator such as Bloglines. The reason why I said I might start with it is because in the BetaBloglines, you can comment on any article you read. This is a great new feature the Bloglines crew added to the beta version (learned that from Clay Burell at Beyond School). This is the way into the 2.o world. Reading blogs and then commenting on them. Get your voice out there and be a part of the conversation. This is how change can take place.

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When I create my presentation for POB, I think that is where I will begin. Have educators go to a blog, read it, and post a comment. By becoming a part of the conversation, you can become part of the solutions. There are many great edubloggers out there, so go out on the web and check out a few. Don’t forget to post your comments.

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VoiceThread: Full of Potential

VoiceThread is a collaborative network that is designed for the K-12 population. Some of the key features include being able to create voice, import pictures, presentations, video, and text to share with other students and educators.

Recently I created a VoiceThread that revolved around the concept of rounding. Some of my colleagues were talking about rounding and how some students understand the concept quickly and others never understand it or struggle with it for a long time. I think for the students who are struggling, they need to “see it” and cannot memorize a rhyme or follow/memorize a rote procedure. After giving it some thought and havingĀ  follow-up discussions, I decided to try a different approach.

The basic concept is this: after being able to determine the place to be rounded to, we need to determine the place value above and below. Following that, students would determine the mid-point of those two numbers. Last students would determine whether or not the number being rounded fell above or below the mid-point.

In addition, students can map these numbers out on a blank number line with the “below” number left, the “above” right and the mid-point in the middle. The student could then place the number where they think it would be in relation to the other three numbers. For more on that, go to VoiceThread.

I think the true potential of VoiceThread is putting this tool in the hands of the students. How about having the students choose a topic they are learning about, collaborating with the teacher to develop the concept and creating their own VoiceThread? Students could script out their concept and either create text, video, presentation, or pictures. To that one could add voice and then can be published.

This has the potential to reach beyond the curriculum. Giving students the power to create their own learning, to go out and teach others is terrific. If one can teach a topic, they truly understand. Reaching an audience that is looking at this work is powerful. A teacher directed lesson that is followed by a worksheet that is only looked at by the teacher doesn’t carry the same weight.

I would be curious to hear from others who have implemented VoiceThread into their educational lives.