Archive for the ‘EC&I 834’ Category

Our Changing Brain

Friday, May 28th, 2010
Being involved in the exploration of using web 2.0 tools in classrooms as a part of inquiry based learning is really exciting. With all the instant gratification via quicker responses and more purposeful searching we may tend to believe we are actually doing more in depth work. Since we can scan, clip, note, save or post nearly anything we find instantly we may begin to feel somewhat like an authority in certain disciplines. However, this is not what research is telling us. The article I clipped the attached section from shares further information about brain research in the area of mapping neurological response of people as they interact with google based searches. Although there is a lot of brain activity, as measured by Whole Brain MRI machines, this does not mean that more is better. We may be making new connections but are the new connections beneficial? Will students benefit from web-based inquiry explorations? what do you think?
clipped from
What kind of brain is the Web giving us? That question will no doubt be the subject of a great deal of research in the years ahead. Already, though, there is much we know or can surmise—and the news is quite disturbing. Dozens of studies by psychologists, neurobiologists, and educators point to the same conclusion: When we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning. Even as the Internet grants us easy access to vast amounts of information, it is turning us into shallower thinkers, literally changing the structure of our brain.
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New web 2.0 Tool

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

VoiceThread overview

I got a chance to utilize a web 2.0 tool VoiceThread. To view the presentation click here. In order to complete my project it required syncing my flickr photo set to VoiceThread. Not too bad out of all the things that could go wrong. I was really impressed with how easy it was to upload and attach both written and audio comments. Also I was able to trouble shoot my Mac’s web cam so the video would work although I haven’t had a chance to use it yet as there was subtle frustration in its not working as I was putting the project together. If you have already viewed the presentation and this read is a follow up make sure to check back through the presentation for some video posts.

Negative Impact of viral videos

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
Along with the notoriety of posting a video that goes viral can have, there is also a menasing side to web based fame as some youth find out the hard way.
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“Because social networking is so much a norm, I’m not sure that it would occupy the kind of space and attention that we give it – we who didn’t grow up with this – as children who see it as part of their landscape.”

But Toronto bullying expert Peggy Moss isn’t so sure. When she speaks with teachers and parents at her workshops, she finds many have retained crystal clear memories of their own bullies, even 35 years later.

“We’re starting to know what the impact of bullying is. We have a better sense of how much that wounds us going forward,” said the former hate-crime prosecutor.

Ms. Moss said that while kids who “stick out” have long acted out to regain some control over their lives, the few boundaries that exist at school around bullying often disappear on the Web.

“My concern with the Internet is that we don’t yet know all of the ramifications around the interactions in that space.”

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Web Etiquette

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

There is a lot of concern around student behavior online and rightfully so. Since the advent of online networks students have been faced with the same face to face social issues they had experienced on the playground. Cyberbullying is a mojor concern and can have equally devistating effects as face to face bullying, and I would even say more so due to the substancial size of the audience online bullying can have. Instead of only a few people, mostly those within ear shot, hearing the comments they are saved for all those who would visit the webpage or the comments can be forwarded to a vast number of email groups lists or friends lists. Tamar Weinberg provides a well thought out guide to surviving and interacting in appropriate ways online. Tamar highlites the major social sites and provides a guide for fostering and maintaining online relationships (both professional and personal). Here is a screenshot captured using Jing capturing a part of her conclusion thoughts. For the full article follow this link. The Ultimate Social Media Etiquette Handbook.

Heroic Games

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

This video poses a very important question  about video games. Can we use online video games to solve real world problems? Jane McGonigal believes not only is it possible but she has created online games based around generating social networks around critical global issues. Make sure to watch the video to decide for yourself but here is what we (I watched this with two of my sixth grade classes today) think… the majority of the class believes that games can be used to solve world problems. What a hopeful group of students! These students have made good progress and although the other students may not believe in  the power of games it does not reflect their love of playing all sorts of games. As the rest of the classes  watch this today check back for comments and further thoughts.

Here are the links to the Games mentioned in the video:

Play it before you live it!

World Without Oil



Check out the into video for Evoke.

Social networking for Minors

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010
One of the continuing trends in todays society is the use of social networking sites. Naturally the use of social networking is starting to make its way into the classroom. One of the emerging needs is etiquette on the web (webiquette). This article highlights a new site Togetherville that allows parents to utilize thier facebook connections to develop a network with their children and model proper online behaviors.
clipped from
Togetherville allows parents to build a social circle for their children based on their own collection of Facebook friends. The children can then interact with the children of their parents’ friends, and specific adults that their parents have chosen, in a semi-private environment. The content on the site is curated, so children can play games, make art projects and watch or share videos, but everything they have access to has been vetted in advance, Mr. Dhillon said. Children can comment on their friends’ posts directly through drop-down menus of preselected phrases. If a user wants to say something that is not on the list, he can submit a request that it be added.
“We teach kids from a very early age, never let your identity be online, never let anyone know who you are, but we’re teaching some bad things,” he said. “Kids don’t learn how to be accountable.”  
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Another look at Sixth Sense Technology

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Today I had an opportunity to share with my sixth grade class the video about Sixth Sense Technology. I was so pumped about their reactions I had to go and see if there had been any updates since I last posted about the emerging technology. Here is what I found.

New tool

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Today I was able to take some time and play around with a new web 2.0 tool Jing. Jing is a program that allows a user to capture screen shots. The framing of the Jing guidlines for the screen shot is really user friendly. However, it did take me one run through before I was able to achieve the screen diemensions to capture  the image with little modification to the box. Although I do like how the window pops up and allows you to name and then share right from the pop up window. I like the placement of the Jing sun (top middle on my pc and top right hand corner on my mac) as it allows really easy screen shot access and organization. I think Jing is an excellent companion to clipmarks as this program allows users to capture text up to 1000 words and store it in the same manner as the Jing screen captures. Clipmarks has helped me capture important paragraphs and quotes, many of which I later posted as content of blog entries and even posted right from clipmarks to this blog (scroll down a bit and you’ll see). I see the same potential for Jing. I am going to work screen captures into blog entries and use them in sections of “how to instructionals” when introducing new tools and assignments to students.  I do see potential classroom applications for this particularly when students are working at gathering information and moving them away from the cut and paste they are so used to. Below is my first trial using Jing. I captured a shot from Slightly Shumay, our class social network blog section. After Earth day we had a lot of great blog discussions about being more envronmetally friendly and how we could all effect change.

New Slightly Shumay Wiki

Monday, May 17th, 2010

I have added a new site to the Slightly Shumay series of websites geared towards furthering the use of web 2.0 tools in the classroom. The Slightly Shumay Wiki will be a home for web quests and other web based activiteis. Students will be able to explore and add content to the site. The site has just begun so there is only an intoduction as of now. Keep checking for updates.

Authentic education using Web Quests

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Web quests are designed to be an inquiry based activity geared towards generating a context for the information student s are exposed to. Most often the design of the web quest places the student at the fore front of their experience. As a part of the design, information breadcrumbs and multiple pathways of concept attainment can be achieved through careful planning and web quest design. Web quests help to reduce student search time by aggregating sites and content for student exploration. I believe web quests can provide authentic student exploration and learning. Upon researching the different learning theories it appears several theories overlap and work in support of one another in web quest design. I see a lot of Connectivism learning theory underlying the web quest concept. Connectivism, is the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, complexity and self-organization. In Connectivism learning is a process that happens within an ever-changing environment of shifting contexts. Connectivism is based on the concept that students knowledge attainment is evolving from an ever-changing source of knowledge and developing the skill sets to recognize variations as information changes and its subsequent impact on the current knowledge structure is essential. ( As much as Connectivism plays a role in web quest design so too does Constructivism. Constructivism states learning as an active, contextualized process of constructing knowledge rather than acquiring it. Knowledge is constructed based on personal experiences and hypotheses of the environment. Learners continuously test these hypotheses through social negotiation. Each person has a different interpretation and construction of knowledge process. The learner is not a blank slate (tabula rasa) but brings past experiences and cultural factors to a situation. ( This is quite evident in web quests as one of the main design functions is to place students into roles that allow them to take on personas of experts in particular fields. Each student will bring with them prior knowledge and a goal for knowledge attainment, although students may not be as aware of the latter. While reading Brenda Mergel’s paper “Learning Theories & Instructional Design” the section about meaningful effects caught my attention. “Meaningful information is easier to learn and remember. (Cofer, 1971, in Good and Brophy, 1990) If a learner links relatively meaningless information with prior schema it will be easier to retain. (Wittrock, Marks, & Doctorow, 1975, in Good and Brophy, 1990).” The meaning and connections within knowledge generated by students is a deigning factor of web quests and works to combine Cognitive theory and Connectivism as key elements of the web quest design in student concept attainment. Without the interplay of these two theories we would not be able to see the lager construct of the instructional design. As stated at the beginning, I believe web quests are a way to provide authentic concept delivery as their nature of inquiry based learning with the foundations of Connectivism, Cognitive, and Constructivism (only to name a few) provide a means by which to engage various aspect of knowledge interaction as well as associations to prior knowledge. Knowledge is built within an every changing stream of updated concepts and new discoveries. I believe web quests can be an instructional tool utilized in the classroom helping students to engage in meaningful and authentic discourse on various topics as they take on the role of researcher and expert. Just as educators can layer the content of the web quest so too are the learning theories interconnected strengthening the web quest value in the classroom.

If you have some time I highly recommend listening to Ed Tech Talk presentation of  Web Quests.