Reflection of IT 780

It 780 Banner imageIn many ways this semester has flown, but in other ways it has held on with gripping claws.  As the semester draws to a close much has happened.  One relief was to learn that the Ph.D. program in Instructional Design would not be discontinued.  On a bittersweet note, a professor I have really learned a lot from is beginning a new chapter of his life–his ‘golden years’.   He will surely be missed greatly by the IT students and state of Mississippi.

I could not help but be amazed as I finished compiling the blogfolio, how much we had really learned this semester.  While some of the material I had used and worked with before such as Twitter, Diigo, and Wikis –an interesting part of the course was learning new and improved ways to create some of the Web 2.0 technologies. Some examples of this were using Slideshare for screencasts and Pod-o-matic for podcasts. Anothr enjoyable assignment was creating and designing the social network. This course also had a new dynamic because we met face-to-face for seven of our classes. While I had initially not wanted to have to travel; it was nice to meet and get to know the other IT students. I feel like I know a lot of them from being online, but it was nice to be in a traditional classroom setting.

Many times throughout the semester it was trying since I had signed up for three courses, in fear the program would not be reinstated.  It also rained every single Monday we met face-to-face.  Not only did we encounter rain, but often tornadoes with it.  Even April 25th, an original class meeting that was postponed due to Easter–rain.  However, I have no regrets and realize now it was meant to be.  If I had not signed up for the IT 780 course this semester; I would not have had the pleasure of taking Dr. Yuen during his final spring semester at The University of Southern Mississippi. It was so worth the sacrifice. 

So long my teacher, colleague, and friend.  I wish you the absolute best as you begin this new and exciting chapter of your life.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Reflection on Presentation

My topic for our Web 2.0 Presentation was on Windows Live Essentials. While I have used Windows Live for a couple of years now, it is a Web 2.0 tool that seems to get better every day. Many prefer Google Docs and Amazon, but I believe Microsoft’s Windows Live has so much more to offer.

After working on this presentation I learned of additional features that I did not know existed. Some of these features that I was not aware of was the Windows Live Mesh or formerly known as Windows Live Sync. It allows you 5 GB of storage that you can sync with your other devices allowing you up to date versions for the file from all of your synced devices. This application is comparable to DropBox.

I was not familiar with the Family Safety application of Windows Live also. It allows you flexibility to monitor your children’s online activities giving them complete freedom where a parent monitors activities, or you can restrict what they have access too. As a parent you can even determine the times of the day your children get online. This application works well with Windows Parental Controls further enhancing its features.

Once the presentation was completed, we uploaded the file into Slideshare and added an audio narrative to the presentation. I plan to use the presentation to share with my colleagues that I work with. They are wanting to learn more about the features available in Windows Live.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reflection on Web 2.0 Tools–Chapter 4

Unlike some of my classmates who may be from the business or corporate sector of instructional technology and design–my entire career has been technology education. However, like the article presents; I have witnessed many misgivings with  instructional design and the challenges of technology in education.  Technology in education is often misused.  In the early days the focus was on getting a computer in the classroom, then there was the shift of having a computer connected to the Internet in the classroom, and the focus is getting students to use technology enriched lessons.  However most students who use technology in the classroom often only use a computer for word processing related tasks.  To be effective technology needs to be seamless and embedded within classroom instruction.  It does not need to be treated as “oh I could let my students use a computer for this assignment.”  To be effective students need to use technology as part of the normal classroom routine without even thinking “oh I am on the computer today”.

The chapter describes at length Web 2.0 and how it is used in both education and society.  Web 2.0 is more sharing, community, and network based unlike its predecessor Web 1.0.  Educators are just beginning to explore how it can be used in education to promote and stimulate learning through blogs, wikis, Twitter, and social networking.  Uses of Web 2.0 applications help enable learners to synthesize and categorize information.  Sites allow for learners to collaborate and share knowledge and ideas further stimulating growth and creation.

The author does a good job of explaining the threat of cognitive overload when trying to incorporate Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom.  Often educators are conditioned to writing objectives based around what the outcomes will be for the students—the cookie-cutter approach.  With technology teachers may not be able to determine the outcomes and direction when using these tools in the classroom however that is not necessarily bad.  Teachers may have to let go of the teacher centered approach and move towards a student centered approach.  In professional development sessions they may be given examples from the peers where this type of instruction was successful and learn what may work better than others.  They may also learn from their peers how much learning may transpire if they give students the freedom to explore and learn and see where it takes them.

Web 2.0 may be a passing fad but only as we transition and grow into Web 3.0.  The concepts and ideology in this chapter is only going to grow and advance not dissipate.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Reflection on Social Networking–Chapters 2 & 16

Social networks are social group structures of individuals or organizations and the relationships between them.  Various social networking sites and the amount of time individuals spend on them is quickly growing at amazing speeds.  As their popularity grows it is infiltrating and changing the education scape.  Teachers are looking for ways to incorporate them into education due to their growing popularity to reach more students.

Chapter 2’s focus is centered on the code of conduct surrounding social networking sites and this can be a very complex issue especially in education.  However, chapter 16 focuses on social network’s potential in education as an LMS. With 88% of students saying they use social networking sites that is a huge majority.  Hazing has become a particular concern with students involved in social networking and there have been many reported suicides as a result of this.  One-third of students who use the Internet say they have been a victim of threatening or irritating behavioral activities when online, and 17% of teachers say they have been a target for online humiliation or embarrassment. Lawsuits concerning teachers have also been in the news.  Where is the line drawn between free speech and protecting one’s privacy?

With the popularity of Internet and hybrid classes growing social networks as a classroom forum can build a sense of community often missing from the virtual classroom.  Social networks provide a sense of connectivity for students allowing them to feel a part of something.  A study conducted in the UK suggested to school administrators to experiment using social networking sites for staff development and digital literacy. 

Truly after reading both chapters I really was unable to find a weakness.  I feel what made chapter 16 particularly strong was the study conducted from the two courses that used social networks in their classes.  It provided quantitative as well as qualitative information to allow the reader to see the results.  The chapter leading up to the study did a great job of providing foundational information concerning social networks and how they can be used in education too.

Teachers could use a great deal of the information presented in either of the chapters.  With cyber bulling continually discussed in education; teachers may look at developing professional development sessions to educate others on preventative measures.  Educators may also look at ways they can incorporate preventative measures in their teaching to educate students on how to deal with bullying and why it should not be done.  Students at early ages do not realize what they post online is there forever and just because it is deleted or marked private it goes away.  They need to be taught this and learn that everything is published online should be thought about before it is published.

Educators could also benefit from professional development sessions that may show them how they could use social networks in their teaching.  Even if they do not teach online they may find benefit to creating a social networking site to facilitate and promote learning.  Students could use the site to discuss a topic, share relevant videos, etc.  I believe students are more open to share in a discussion online sometimes than they are in a traditional classroom setting. 

 Social networking use is growing each year by astounding rates.  As teachers we would be foolish not to incorporate this technology medium in courses to try to promote learning in the classroom.  I believe this will become a more commonly used platform to share information to students, teachers, parents and the community in the educational setting.

At the school where I teach the numbers of students taking virtual classes now are as great as the number of students on each of our campuses.  They represent a campus so to speak–it has grown so large.  The course management systems we use are still being piloted to find the best medium to present the information.  One drawback to online learning often times is the lack of the sense of community.  Social networks may help with this.

The following chapters did not really present any information that I was not already familiar with however, if I had been asked this question prior to taking Dr. Yuen’s IT 860 course during the summer 2010 semester I would have answered yes.  As an online instructor for over 8 years I had never considered developing my course as a social network and thought the concept to be very unique when presented with it in the 860 course.  The only drawback I felt that it had compared to my LMS Blackboard was the lack of a grade book where students could monitor their progress.  I also had not considered using the social network for professional development either, but currently we are conducting professional development sessions through other LMS sites so why should this be any different.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Reflection on Podcasting–Chapter 15

While I thought this chapter was well written the material I was already quite familiar with.  Teaching at an iTunesU school, colleagues and myself have received extensive professional development in creating all three types of podcasts.  Also in some of the other graduate classes I have had for the Ph.D. program we have been assigned to create podcasts and screencasts/vodcasts.  Last spring I also wrote a research paper on podcasts. 

As an online teacher for the past six years I have also incorporated podcasts into my courses each semester.  In the fall I began to use vodcasts/screencasts which have been well favored by my students.  This has greatly reduced the number of questions I receive from my students during the first few weeks in the semester when students are trying to get started and familiarize themselves with the course.

Technology is revolutionizing the way we view, see, and hear the world around us. Since 2000 when the iPod was first launched tiny ear buds are infiltrating our society.  Podcasting is one such Web 2.0 tool that has transformed our societal structure to online connectivity.  This popular Web 2.0 instrument can be used in a variety of ways to help stimulate learning.  While podcasting is becoming ubiquitous in the Web 2.0 scape educators are not the only one jumping on the bandwagon.  Prominent news channels, sports commentators, and preachers are posting podcasts for interested subscribers.  With the launch of iTunesU this has also further promoted podcasting in education.  Textbook publishing companies are also publishing podcasts of chapter readings for students to download.

In the education scape educators are able to share their lectures with students online or they may give students the option of creating a podcast of their own versus doing a traditional oral presentation before the class.  Podcasting is also transforming learning-on-the-go for students and teachers as well.  Students can download teachers lectures, chapter readings and the flexibility aspect podcasting affords—students find appealing.

Discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the chapters.

I thought the chapter did a wonderful job of thoroughly explaining podcasting and its usages in learning.  It was easy to understand and also included surveys from students on the different learning styles and which of the three types of podcasts students preferred.  All of which were valuable pieces of information.  The author though was weak in giving the reader information in what to use if they were interested in creating a podcast.  There was not any information such as websites a user could go to for creating a cast or what equipment may be needed to create a cast. 

How could teachers/educators use the material/information addressed in the chapters to help improve their instruction or professional development?

Teachers could use this material to enhance their classroom instruction and online teaching to incorporate podcasting.  Utilizing the three different types of podcast formats teachers could experiment with presenting their lessons in podcast formats such as regular podcasts (audio only), enhanced podcast (voice over still images), and vodcast (voice over video).  If teachers are not aware of software that enable them to create these learner resources then professional development training courses to help teachers learn how to create these resources should be offered.  Podcasting in these formats target visual and auditory learning and can provide support to the students in a variety of ways.  Traditionally in an online course visual and auditory learning are often lacking, and this can provide a step-by-step approach to helping a student learn content.  Vodcasts can also be used to demonstrate a lesson to the student in a step-by-step fashion.  When students were asked which of the three formats they preferred in a podcast 79% responded by saying they would prefer the vodcast.  With this information teachers should be motivated to seek professional development opportunities to learn how to create these casts and offer this type learning format to students.

What future trends do you see coming from the topics dealt with in the chapters? In other words, do you think the material/information discussed in the chapters have any relevancy to the future or is it just a passing fad?

I believe with the increased use in mobile devices and smart phones–podcast usage will only increase with time.  Also as web 2.0 sites continue to become developed easing the creation of podcasts more teachers will continue to incorporate them into their classes.  Online learning is still relatively new and undergoing a great deal of change in how material is presented.  One way it is changing is by providing students a variety of learning tools—one of which is podcasts.  This will also continue to fuel the popularity and growing use of podcasting

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Reflection in Wikis–Chapters 7 & 8

Chapters 7 and 8 give an extensive look at Wiki’s and Wikibook’s uses in education and how they can be used to promote online collaboration among students.  The author reviewed what a Wiki is and gave examples of how they can be used for group projects.  The chapter readings discussed the role of a teacher in facilitating a Wiki for class use and in writing a Wikibook.  In Chapter 8 the author gives an extensive example of how a Wikibook was written collaborating with classes from three different universities from around the world, and the experiences of the three groups.  This was particularly interesting, because it looked at the three different teachers approaches to teaching; it also examined the difference in cultures, and described how students felt when other students edited their work.

The author was weak in the examples used for Wiki software and used Wikipedia many times as a example, but did not offer others.  I thought chapter seven was very weak on how it illustrated what a Wiki was to the reader.  If I had not been familiar with Wiki’s, and utilize them in the classroom; I would not have been able to grasp the message the author was trying to convey.  While he showed a couple of diagrams I thought there needed to be more.  Also while he used an example of Wikipedia I thought he should have given more examples of Wiki software such as Wikispaces and TWiki.  Chapter eight did a much better job of illustrating Wikibooks, and was much better in offering examples of student projects in this endeavor.  I thought it was particularly interesting how the three universities collaborated with other students around the world to write the Wikibook.

Teachers can use Wiki’s in so many ways to improve their instruction and professional development.  Wiki’s are now integrated in Blackboard 9.1 and are becoming more widely used in online classrooms to promote collaboration.  An example of how we are using Wiki’s in our department is in the accounting I and II courses online.  The teachers set up a problem in Wikispaces and divide the students into groups.  Each group is invited to join the Wiki (invitation sent by teacher), the students then work together to solve the problem.  Students are very receptive to work as a team, and it makes it nice because you can track each student’s contribution to the solution of the problem.  Through using this Web 2.0 tool students motivate each other, and if one student is not doing their part the others will quickly urge them to do so.  This seems to foster community better than relying solely on the discussion board for a sense of community.

I believe the fact that Blackboard 9.1 now has Wiki’s integrated as a tool within the course management system is indicative that this is more than simply a passing fad.  Students are going to become more accustomed to working with groups remotely in the workplace without traveling  to do this.  One could say Google docs is an example of a Wiki since one can track every contributors changes to a document and up to 50 people have the capability to edit/modify a document at the same time.  As we continue to rely more on a global work environment it is not always going to be conducive to travel for work, and we will have to rely more on Web 2.0 tools such as these.

Currently Cengage has a book by Ken Baldauf that is a Wikibook on Computer Concepts.  He is constantly updating it with the most current information, and when the students are using the book they are constantly receiving the most current up to date information.  The author has a staff of 30 who are continuously working to improve/manage the textbook’s content.  This is just one example of a possible future use of Wiki’s in education.

In conclusion, I found how working with different cultures can really shape the dynamics of working with a Wiki or other type of collaboration.  I also found how the three university teachers and their teaching style shaped the outcome of the Wikibook.  This was particularly interesting to me. The chapters definitely helped to improve my understanding of the challenges that may be presented when incorporating Wiki’s into my online classes.  Currently my experience with Wiki’s in my online courses has been a positive one, and these chapters confirmed my beliefs that I am incorporating the right Web 2.0 technologies into my courses.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Reflection on Social Bookmarking–Chapter 10

Description/summary of main ideas in the chapter.

In the chapter reading the focus is on the Web 2.0 tool social bookmarking.  The great benefit of social bookmarking is it helps to keep what is discovered; found.  The chapter does a thorough job of showcasing teaching ideas for incorporating this web 2.0 feature in all types of class settings.  The author showcased lower level undergraduate, upper level graduate and graduate at different stages of research abilities which I found particularly interesting. 

The chapter gives and in depth look at taxonomies versus folksonomies.  Prior to reading the article I was familiar with the term taxonomy which is a subject based classification that arranges terms.  However, I was not familiar with folksonomy which is a collaborative informal categorization of materials.

Through this type of teaching pedagogy it helps expand students vocabulary, help ensure they can relate to course objectives to relevant information, encourages students to research information, promotes the discovery of web resources and much more. 

Discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the chapter.

The chapter did a great job of discussing how the web 2.0 tool social bookmarking can be used in education; however it did a poor job of discussing the different types of social bookmarking sites.  In the chapter reading I liked how they used pictures from Blackboard showing examples along with the Tag cloud.  While I realize the author may have been trying to be general with the application; I believe there should have been a section designated for different social networking sites and the pros and cons of the various ones. 

How could teachers/educators use the material/information addressed in the chapter to help improve their instruction or professional development?

Teachers most likely could use the material presented in the chapter as an add-on to an assignment they already teach in the classroom.  If they have students research a topic and write a paper they could easily incorporate this as part of the research part of the assignment.  Students can share information with their classmates, and include tags with relevant information the site contains.  If the teacher is concerned about privacy he/she can create a group for the class and make the group private. 

In terms of professional development social bookmarking is a wonderful way for teachers to share resources and foster relationships in a teaching community.  Through this scholarly collaboration teachers can share their research with groups of users in an academic community much more quickly than ever before.  Through the social bookmarking medium resources are shared cross-disciplinary, multi-institutional, and intercontinental. 

What future trends do you see coming from the topics dealt with in the chapter? In other words, do you think the material/information discussed in the chapter has any relevancy to the future or is it just a passing fad?

I believe teachers will begin to use these techniques more and more in classrooms of all ages as tagging becomes more popular.  Students now are very accustomed to tagging as a result of working with other Web 2.0 technologies.  This knowledge could easily be applied to social bookmarking and tagging resources by topic. 

What you learned from reading this chapter? If the article did not reveal any new information, explain what you already know about the topic and how you gained that knowledge (e.g., experience, word-of-mouth, research).

I have worked with social bookmarking sites such as Diigo and Delicious in the past, but currently have not implemented them in the classroom.  The chapter reading did a good job of showing the various ways this could be done such as treasure hunts or incorporating bookmarking into another assignment currently taught.  This seemed to make a lot of sense particularly if the assignment was research related.  I could really see how motivated students would be to conduct the research and tag it based on relevance.  This would show the teacher if they were just finding websites or finding applicable websites to the material/content that was relevant to the lesson.

Did you feel the chapter helped in your understanding of the use of technology in education? Explain why or why not. Did anything confuse you? Did the chapter leave more questions for you?

The chapter did not really help my understanding of technology in education but I did like how the chapter looked at social bookmarking at different levels of learning.  The way the chapter broke down the different levels into lower level undergraduate, upper level undergraduate, and graduate was particularly interesting.  Since I teach lower level undergraduate I could relate to their limited vocabulary and understanding of research.  I also could relate to upper level undergraduate lack of understanding of formal research and really believe I didn’t possess a formal understanding of research until after completing my Master’s degree.  This section of the chapter I found particularly interesting.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment