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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ask the Owls - Learn and Teach Online

Ask the Owls is a new service for teaching and learning online. On Ask the Owls anyone can who has a skill or knowledge that they want to share with others in an online classroom can do so. To teach a course just sign up as an "owl," complete a short course description form, upload your course hand-outs, then schedule your live class meeting. When the time comes to start your class just enter your classroom and click "start call" to start broadcasting with your webcam and microphone. A live chat box is enabled for your students to use while you're presenting.

Courses can be publicly listed on Ask the Owls. If you want to learn a new skill or learn some new knowledge, just browse through the course listings and sign-up if there is room in a course. Courses are currently limited to ten enrollees at a time. If you do sign-up for a course, but change your mind about taking the course make sure that you un-enroll so that someone else can get in.

Applications for Education
Ask the Owls has a course enrollment limit of ten which makes it appropriate for small online tutoring sessions. Ask the Owls could be a good platform for peer tutoring groups to use.

A Quick Note About Zunal Webquest Resources

Last night I received an email from a reader, Jill Parrott, with some important information about the popular webquest builder Zunal. Apparently there has been a rash of users' content disappearing from their webquests without warning. Zunal has posted a note explaining that a bit of malicious code was uploaded to the site. That malicious code locked the resources table on Zunal. Zunal is working to fix the problem. In the meantime you can log into your account and add or delete resources manually if you cannot wait for Zunal to restore things.
Click the image for full size view. 

Technology Education for Pre-Service Teachers - 3 Months Later

Back in February Jayme Linton wrote a wildly popular guest post on technology education for pre-service teachers. Her spring semester just concluded and she's graciously written a follow-up post of her experiences and observations since February. Jayme's post is included below.

I’ve just wrapped up my first semester teaching Technology in the Classroom, a course designed to prepare pre-service teachers for effectively using technology for teaching and learning. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to write a post for Free Technology for Teachers earlier in the semester. You can read my previous post here. This follow-up post offers my reflections on the course along with those of my students. It is my hope that fellow teacher educators will be able to adapt some of my methods for use in their courses and that practicing teachers will be encouraged by the tech-savvy beginning teachers entering the education field this fall.



One culminating project for the course, an overwhelming favorite of my students, was the creation of a multimedia presentation that could be used to teach educators how and why to integrate a specific technology tool in their classrooms. A description of the assignment follows:


Work in pairs to create a multimedia presentation you could use to teach future colleagues about how to integrate a specific technology tool into their classrooms. Your presentation must give teachers a rationale for why they should use the tool, an overview of how the tool works, sample ways to use it, and technical instructions for using it. Include at least four different types of media, such as images, text, screenshots, screencasts, podcasts, or videos. You will share your presentation with the class. You will be responsible for providing feedback on your partner’s work as well as your classmates’ presentations. A few possible tools to use: VoiceThread, Animoto, Prezi, Popplet, Glogster EDU, Windows Movie Maker, iMovie, Photo Story, Livebinders.
   
My students blew me away with the quality of their presentations. Most of them have now graduated and will be entering their first teaching positions in a couple of months. I feel extremely confident that not only will they integrate technology successfully into their teaching practices and enhance their students’ learning through the use of technology, but they will also be teacher leaders who guide others toward more effective technology integration. Their projects speak for themselves. I have encouraged my students to share these presentations with their colleagues in the future and create opportunities regularly to share their expertise with others. In future sections of the course, I plan to require students to present their projects to other educators. This could include a presentation to the faculty at a local school or the School of Education faculty at the university. I have included a few of their projects below, but you can see them all here.



    Class Dojo presentation by Caitlin Jones and Erin Schudde

    Edmodo presentation by Michael Judd and Jordan White

    Glogster EDU presentation by Caitlan Jones

    Prezi presentation by Erin DeBord and Cregg Laws



After spending a semester learning about effective uses of technology in the classroom, I asked students to share ineffective uses they have experienced. Some of my students shared technology disasters from their field experiences in local schools, while others shared ineffective attempts at using technology by their university professors. Knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do.



One of the coolest learning experiences for me happened late in the semester when I invited seven phenomenal teachers from local schools to speak with my students about technology applications in their classrooms. To prepare for the teacher panel, my students viewed videos and work samples from these teachers’ classrooms, then posted questions for the teacher panel on Wallwisher. The in-service teachers shared practical advice and reflections from the field. I facilitated the conversation and took notes, which you can view here.



On the final night of class, I used Socrative to get my students’ feedback on the course and help me make improvements for future semesters. (You can read about how I use Socrative and other tools for formative assessments here.) One student suggested adding an application piece to the TPACK assignment, and I was excited by that feedback. Next semester, I am going to take the TPACK assignment one step further by requiring students to develop and teach a lesson plan using the TPACK framework. The lesson plan will be aligned to ISTE’s NETS for Students and the content area of the class where students are completing their internship or student teaching. The PLN / Twitter assignment was overwhelmingly my students’ least favorite assignment of the course. They had a difficult time keeping up with the Twitter feed and remembering to tweet while they were engaged in student teaching requirements (lesson planning, grading, etc.). I am not giving up on this assignment for two reasons. 1) I have experienced the power of Twitter over and over in growing my own PLN. 2) I am confident that developing a PLN will have tremendous benefits for my students as they enter their own classrooms as beginning teachers. I am reflecting on their feedback, and this summer I’ll make changes to the assignment. Once during the semester, while I was at the NCTIES conference, my students and I participated in a Twitter chat to take the place of our weekly class meeting. They enjoyed the Twitter chat, so I plan to incorporate more of those in future sections of the course.



I am looking forward to checking in on these promising educators in the fall, and I’m confident that I will find them making the most of the technology that’s available to them. I’m energized to have some time to reflect on my students’ feedback and make adjustments for next semester. And most of all, I’m excited about the opportunity to teach two more sections of this course in the fall. Please leave a comment or get in touch with me to share your own ideas and feedback. I would love to connect with you.



About the Author
Jayme Linton currently serves as Director of Teacher Education at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina. Previously, she has held positions as Instructional Technology Facilitator, Staff Development Coordinator, and Instructional Coach for Newton-Conover City Schools. Jayme is a doctoral student in the Teacher Education and Development Ph.D. program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is also a SimpleK12 webinar leader and has presented for the Global Education Conference and K-12 Online Conference. Jayme is passionate about technology for teaching and learning and enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. Connect with Jayme on Twitter @jaymelinton and check out her blogs: Tech Tips for Teachers and iPads in School

3D Views of Famous Landmarks

Last month Google introduced 3D photo tours of famous landmarks in Google Maps. If you haven't had a chance to check them out yet, Tekzilla gives you a quick overview in the video below. The 3D photo tours in Google Maps is a great option for geography teachers and history teachers as well as literature teachers who want their students to explore places mentioned in the books their students read.

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