Sunday, February 27, 2011

Second Life and education

Immersive environments and simulations (SIMS 2) are gaining popularity in education. ISTE has provided a list of some educational examples of SL uses.

Also check out the Serious Virtual Worlds Report for as description of "real capability to offer very practical engagement and social interactions with realistic contexts, to offer conceptual experimentation and to create role plays that facilitate for example different interpretations of historical events and more textured use of information (eg overlay of data and images) to scaffold learning."

Social Media and Wisconsin Politics

As we talk about the use of social media in class, there are real world examples of its use in Wisconsin politics today. The Daily PAge (from the Isthmus weekly paper) offers a guide to social media campaigns against the governor's current agenda ( This is just one side of the issue. I'm sure there are resources presenting the opposing viewpoint, too. Channel 3000 also provides an overview of social media on the protests.  Think about how resources like this could be used to analyze the current situation and different viewpoints with students. As an example of the traffic, check out the Social Meteor tracking of tweets for the first week.

You may also find the PBS lesson plan on Social Media and Non-Violent Protest useful this week.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Use of Images on the Web

In some of the discussions about unit plans, the question came up about using images on the web and copyright. If you get an image off a webpage, from Google Images or from Flickr, there is a good chance it is copyrighted. Anytime you see the copyright symbol or a note that all rights are reserved, you can't just take that image and put it on your webpage, even if you site it. The best way to be safe is to use images that are either clipart and you have rights to use them or ones that have an appropriate Creative Commons license. This is a new conception of copyright where the creator keeps certain rights and allows users specified uses of their intellectual property. You can look for images (and videos and other resources) with this license by going to For more information on how this works, see Get Creative.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Website Evaluation

Alan November's reading sparked a discussion on web evaluation. While it is a vital skill to teach, many teaches don't feel they have the skills themselves in web evaluation. The school librarian can be a valuable research in teaching these skills. There are also a wide range of resources available. Here are a few resources you might want to check out.

Curiosity and Questioning

Much of what November and Warlick talk about relate to both what and how we teach our students. As several people have noted in their posts, student questioning and ownership of their own learning are vital to creating learners who are curious and use their skills outside the classroom. The real question is how to we motivate students to want to question and develop / maintain a sense of curiosity. Young students have this naturally, and it doesn't disappear as they grow older but instead often goes underground during school hours because it isn't what is expected in school. When teachers feel pushed to teach for test performance, the questioning student can be more of a distraction than a welcome addition to the class. How can we meet the requirements put on us and still develop these all important 21st century skills, building on students' natural curiosity?

Several people provided examples of simulations that they are using in their classrooms that allow students to develop questions, test out hypotheses, fail, and learn new concepts. These are definitely a step in the right direction. Others mentioned projects where students were allowed to follow personal interests. How do we build time in the curriculum to allow students to fumble around as they search for questions of interest to them? How do we help them explore and then focus their research? Consider that the school librarian is someone who can help as you do this with your students.

Finally, look at the work done with immersive environments, simulations and gaming in education. The Games, Learning and Society program at UW-Madison is a leader in this area and has been doing some exciting work. Eica and Rick Halverson, Constance Steinkuehler, Kurt Squire, Elisabeth Hayes (Arizona) and James Gee (Arizona) are faculty members associated with this program. Check for the GLS Conference, generally in June at UW-Madison.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


I recently started using Zotero which to me is useful for managing citations, bookmarks and notes. I like the fact that you can combine books, articles, blog posts, webpages, newspaper articles, etc. all in one list with the ability to add standalone notes that you then put into folders as well as tagging. It's a little like mixing delicious and RefWorks. I also like that it, too, appears in the lower corner of my web browser, so it is always available. Andrew mentioned it in a comment, too, so he would be a reference if you want to know more.

The Zotero Quick Start Guide is a place to go for more info and a brief video.

Switching between Delicious and Diigo

You can actually import bookmarks from one service into another one. Go to this link:

I also found these instructions if you want to use both (Diigo’s “Save to delicious” feature (found under Tools once you login) allows you to simultaneously add your new bookmarks to delicious.).

Go to the Diigo site for more information on using Diigo on Smartphones and Ipads as well as Diigo for Education where you can create class accounts:

Delicious also has apps for iPhones and Ipads to track your bookmarks. Both can also be added as gadgets in iGoogle.

Lots of options out there.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Using Google in High Schools

Buffy Hamilton, librarian of Creekview High School in Georgia, has develop pages for various classes using technology tools for research. Check out her guide on Google for videos you might use to help your students use these tools. Other guides show the uses of Twitter, RSS feeds, wikis, etc. in student research.

Using GoogleDocs on your mobile device

On the iPhone, GoDocs is really what you want to view and edit GoogleDocs. I think it costs about $4.99. I'm not sure about Android apps for GoogleDocs but I'm sure there is one either available or in the works.

If you go to GoogleDocs help, there is a section on using GoogleDocs on a mobile device ( It shows what it looks like on a Mobile device and how to use it for editing.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Creating your PLN

How do we track our personal learning networks? As you are gathering links to blogs and wikis and people who are forming your own professional learning community, how do you keep it all organized? There is no one right way to do this. Some people use an organizing tool like their own wiki to link to other resources of use to them. I personally like my iGoogle page where I have an RSS reader that shows my favorite blog feeds, a Twitter gadget where I can follow Twitter, a Delicious gadget that shows my delicious bookmarks, a Flickr gadget that shows my pictures, my email, etc. Other "start pages" like Yahoo can do this, but NetVibes, iGoogle and PageFlakes are particularly good as organizers. Some people add links to the sides of their blogs for other blogs and sites they find useful. Figure out what works for you and begin to build your PLN. Remember, you can always get rid of things that prove to be off target or lose their usefulness.