information technology

Glolgster…not your ordinary poster project.

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Tech Tuesday #6:  Glogster–Virtual Posters

Thanks to a very unwelcome visit from the stomach-flu fairy, I missed yesterdays Tech Tuesday posting :-(.  So this week I am presenting Tech Tuesday on Wednesday!

Everyday I have teachers ands tudents asking me about technology tools for class presentations.  They are eager to move beyond the traditional stand-and-present poster project or click-and-read PowerPoint (this makes my heart happy).  Today I present Glogster, an interactive poster creator.  Gloster allows the creator to create a mash-up of video, images, text, and graphics to create a virtual poster.  View the VoiceThread tutorial below for a basic introduction of the educational version of glogster (edu.glogster.com).


Ideas for Glogs:
  • Book reviews
  • Advertisements
  • “About me” presentations
  • Compare/ Contrast ideas or topics
  • Illustrate concepts
  • Extend and Deliver in VESTED


Have you or your students glogged?  Tell us about it!

VoiceThread: Online Collaborative Presentation Tool

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Tech Tuesday #4:  VoiceThread

We’ve all been there.  Sitting in a meeting, our eyes start to cross, ears start tuning out as another PowerPoint presentation clicks, clicks, clicks through various slides.  Not that PowerPoint isn’t a terrific tool to present information, but with all of the options for today’s students to synthesize and publish information in unique ways, perhaps we should begin to consider it as an option rather than the default.

Today we’re exploring a free, web-based tool that allows students to create video presentations by mixing images, videos, documents, presentations, and comments (voice and text).  VoiceThread (voicethread.com) allows the user to create a project and share it with collaborators.  They can then create a project together but remotely, solving the problem of when and how they will find the time and resources to create a presentation in a single file. 

To demonstrate the various tools and uses for Voice Thread, Here’s a VoiceThread on VoiceThread! 

What possibilities do you see for VoiceThread with your students?  Leave us your comments 🙂

Remind101: A Safe Communication Tool for Students, Parents, and Teachers

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 Technology Tuesday #2

Yesterday, I was at my parents’ house for our Labor Day smorgasbor. My niece Kylie, a high school senior, received a message on her phone during dinner (not an uncommon phenomenon in our family).  Our conversation continued as normal while she flipped to her text message screen.  “Oh, good,” she said, “I’m glad she reminded us.”  Immediately, my ears tuned-in with the topic of today’s blog fresh on my mind.  Something told me I was witnessing an example of the exact tool I hoped to share with you for this installment of Tech Tuesday.  I decided to be nosey and ask her about the message.  She turned the screen my direction and sure enough, I was right!  From an unidentified number, the message read, “Don’t forget to bring your ASL II textbook to class tomorrow.”  



Signing up is free and easy!



Kylie was eager to tell me all about the ways that her ASL teacher was using this new website, remind101.com.  The site is a free tool for educators that allows them to send messages via text to their students through an private number.  Privacy is retained on both ends of the message;  the student does not have access to the teacher’s private phone number, nor does the teacher know the students!  Cha-ching! In addition to texts, students and parents can receive messages through email. I asked her what the class thought of the tool, and she shared that her classmates loved it and wished that all their teachers used it. 



Create classes with custom tags.
 students enroll themselves through text or email. 
Select which classes will receive the message.
You can even tell it when to send the message
 if you want to schedule them in advance.



I hear a lot of rumbling from colleagues about communication with students.  Often times, teachers are “encouraged” to use district-created sites that are burdensome and difficult to maintain to communicate with students and teachers.  While ideally, all teacher pages would be networked through the same service, contain the same features, and tools, these sites can be just as difficult for students and parents to access, involving multiple “clicks” and browsing to locate an individual teacher’s page.  The reality is that teachers want  to get information to their students and students want to be informed.  Distributing your pesonal phone number to students, although convenient, may not always be the safest way to maintain communication.  Many districts have created privacy policies that prohibit teachers from contacting students through personal numbers or Facebook pages, citing federal privacy laws. (See more about Texas’ student privacy laws and FERPA
Students feel connected to their teacher when they recieve updates, reminders, and announcements through text or email.  The teacher is “speaking their language.”  For educators, remind101 allows them to distribute information quickly and safely while complying with privacy laws and policies. 
With Open House right around the corner, you might consider setting up your classes on remind101 and invite parents to subscribe.  The website provides .PDF handouts with your customized information that can be distributed to parents and students.  There is very little work for the teacher when creating classes as students and teachers subscribe themselves to a class using a customized number and code.   
When communication is clear, concise, and consistent, students are free to engage in learning rather than becoming bogged in the amount of information and tasks distributed to them over the course of a school day. Parents, too, appreciate the free-flow of information as stakeholders in their child’s education. Remind101 is one of many free services that helps students become task-managers and supports their success.
A video tutorial is available on Vimeo for Remind101. 
Curious about other web-based tools that can support communication and even be integrated into instruction?  Check out Twitter!
Quentin Donellan’s Blog about using Twitter as an instructional tool.


Prezi and QR: The Next Wave of Information Delivery

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Tech Tuesday #1

Welcome to the first edition of Tech Tuesday!  Each Tuesday I will post a blog that highlights technology tools for instructional use.  This week, I thought we’d take some time to explore two tools that I shared with the staff at Fossil Ridge High School as part of library orientation:  Prezi and QR Codes.

Both of these tools have the potential to engage an audience by disseminating information through Web 2.0 tools and smart apps.  Both are free (whoop!) and both are rather intuitive for the presenter and the audience.



Click on the logo to go to the site



Prezi

Prezi has taken the 20th century PowerPoint presentation into the 21st Century by creating a program that is web-based–enhancing accessibility for creators–and adding dynamic layers, motion, and animation to present a variety of media and information.  Imagine an animated mash-up of your best PowerPoints, videos, images, and text and voila!  Prezi. 

You might consider using a Prezi when introducing a new concept, unit, or theme (Think “view” in VESTED).  Even a three-four minute “viewing” could jump start students’ natural curiousity and help to build background.  Open House is coming up soon; play with transforming your PowerPoint into a Prezi to wow your parents.  Using the html code, you can even embed your Prezi on your class web page to provide an engaging introduction.

Students can use Prezi as a vehicle to synthesize information and create original presentations through a “mash-up” of media .  Since it is online and free, access is open to all students.  Students can collaborate to create the Prezi together on their own devices whether from home or at school. Prezi has also created an iPad app that allows the user to download and view shared and saved presentations.  The editing feature, however, is limited and not very conducive to enhancing the presentation through the iPad.

To get staretd, go to Prezi.com, create an account and watch a couple of their easy-to-follow video tutorials.  Start small and give yourself plenty of time to become comfortable with the tool before trying it out on an audience.


Check out some of these teacher Prezis for more ideas!

Class Introductions:


Jazz History

 

Quick Response “QR” Codes





QR codes are customizable barcodes that allow the presenter to provide quick links to online resources such as pages, videos, blogs, forms, etc.  To create a QR Code, go to one of the several QR Code Generator sites such as:
After pasting in a link, the generator will provide you with a downloadable .jpeg or .png file that can be inserted as an image into a document. QR codes can even be scanned off of a screen during a presentation (you might remember the funny looking barcode at the end of my library orientation presentation).
Your audience can then use their smart phones to scan the code and go directly to the information.  All they need is one of several free QR Reader apps:
Different apps are available for various cellular devices (Android, iPhone, etc.). 
What type of information works well with QR Codes?  Online forms, videos, blogs, teacher websites all work well on smart phone devices.  You might stear clear from using QR codes on smart phones for pages that include a lot of visual information or text as they can be difficult to read on a phone unless the site has a mobile version.  QR codes work great when integrated with instruction to respond to surveys and forms or to quickly link students to class pages and frequently used sites.  One school last year posted their individual class websites on each teacher door at open house.  Parents scanned the QR code and automatically received contact and class information to their devices.
Check out this article from t.h.e Journal showcasing one high school science teacher’s experiences with integrating mobile device technology and QR codes into his classroom.
We are continually bombarded with information delievered in innovative and engaging ways.  Rather than rowing against the tide, let’s harness a few tools to help our students be more critical consumers who can create new solutions and innovations as a result of the unlimited amount of information at their fingertips.
Have you used a Prezi or QR code in your class?  We’d love to hear about your successes and struggles in the comments below!

Final Course Reflection

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Audrey Wilson-Youngblood
SLIS 5720
Blog Post #4
Final Reflection
I began my exploration as a new teacher considering technology integration with an eagerness to “get it right.”  Oftentimes, I became frustrated with myself and my students when a lesson or project that centered around technology failed.  My many attempts at MovieMaker, for example, left me disenchanted with the possibilities of digital storytelling.  However, curiousity and perseverance prevailed as I hesitantly but patiently continued to seek and try resources and instructional technology.  After several more years and a change of position, I gained back some of the confidence I’d lost.   Like the pre-service teachers in Daniella Smith’s (2010) article, “Making the case for the leadership role of school librarians in technology integration” who “lacked the knowledge to link Web 2.0 technology to classroom activities” I, too, needed to find a support system that allowed me to collaborate with other teachers seeking to effectively integrate technology into the classroom. 
In my initial technology assessment, I commented on my strength as a professional development leader and the knowledge of specific technology tools I gained while in a coaching position.  It was there that I realized how important embedded professional development is even for “digital natives [who] need instruction in how to transition to teachers who use advanced and assistive technology in the classroom” (Smith, 2010, p. 619).  As a professional development team, we spent most of our time demonstrating various tools, but we failed to provide support for teachers as they sought to integrate the them, “moving them from structuralism to student-centered constructivist activities” as Smith discussed with pre-service librarians (2010, p. 620).   Due to the structure of our position and limitations of our roles, little to no follow-up training was available for teachers.  Now I am validated by the importance of a “supportive infrastructure that includes support for teacher initiative and involvement” (Smith, 2010, p. 620).
                         I’m now able to reflect upon the type of campus leader I hope to become.  As a “transformational leader” I will work with campus leadership “to empower school stakeholders such as teachers, community leaders, parents, and students, which serves numerous purposes [creating] long-term reform” (Smith, 2010, p. 621).  To facilitate the creation of a “shared vision” I plan to initiate a library advisory committee.  I see an opportunity for the committee to not only consider the new direction of the library as an information center, but also to pilot a “Bring Your Own Device” project.  By allowing students to bring and use their own devices, teachers can bypass much of the headache our campuses lack of instructional technology or outdated technology often causes.  My role as a leader and instructional specialist will be to support teachers as they seek to integrate various Web 2.0 tools into their instructional practices.  Several products of this course including the blog and website will enable me to provide “on-demand” professional development supporting the work of this team. 
                        As I look ahead, I continue to gather the numerous tools we’ve explored in the course and utilize my new Diigo account to bookmark, organize and synthesize information I come across so that I can then share it with others.  I find RSS feeds to be particularly useful and have subscribed to sites such as digitalshift.com and digitalis.nwp.org, both of which are platforms for educators to share, discuss, and collaborate on topics related to digital literacy and the integration of technology into the learning process.  I’ve found and subscribed to a number of blogs, which refer me to even more blogs and sites.  Most importantly, I’ve discovered a network of colleagues who are my teachers and who will continue to share their resources and experiences.  Some of these colleagues are organizing into a digital committee on my campus.  Other colleagues are part of national communities of learners and educators. 
My learning experiences in the course allowed me to move from confidence to efficacy as a teacher who integrates technology.  My goal for myself was to broaden my knowledge of various tools.  Like the pre-service librarians my “confidence seemed to be closely aligned with [my] knowledge of technology tools” (Smith, 2010, p. 626).  I now feel that not only have I gained more knowledge than I anticipated, but I also have numerous resources to continue to explore once the course is over.  I relate to the pre-service librarian who wrote, “I try new technology more readily.  I am not afraid to fail if it helps me learn to succeed” (Smith, 2010, p. 624).  I’ve come to understand that where technological integration is involved, learning is part of the struggle. 
Daniella Smith, (2010) “Making the case for the leadership role of school librarians in technology integration”, Library Hi Tech, Vol. 28 Iss: 4, pp.617 – 631.  DOI:  http://libproxy.library.unt.edu:2199/10.1108/07378831011096277

In Response to "Gender, Technology, and Libraries"

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In Response to “Gender, Technology, and Libraries”
Personal Response
As the fields continue to diversify and become more complex, it will be crucial that a balance of men and women professionals comprise the library sciences and informational technology professions.  However traditional they may have been,  IT and library departments will benefit greatly from an integrated workforce rather than perpetuating the gender disparity (Lamont, 2009). 
Lamont’s assertion that the lack of women in IT positions can be attributed to nature and perception accentuates the socio-cultural influence on women when determining a career path, often one that they place there themselves.  Societal “assumptions that family and home responsibilities will cause women to be less able to contribute” may be a driving force, but women in these roles perpetuate such a perspective and their presumptiveness becomes their greatest obstacle (Lamont, 2009, p.140). 
            Qualities of professionals in IT and library sciences may appear to be masculine and feminine:  hard work, commanding, driven, and competitive vs. instinctive, intuitive, innate, and nurturing (Lamont, 2009).  Perhaps these qualities can be pinpointed to specific male and female traits.  What cannot be undermined is the value all of these qualities contribute to every profession.  Therefore, it is a balance of personal traits, qualities, talents, and work ethic that should be considered when seeking to balance these professions, not necessarily X and Y-chromosomes.  
Until the culture is changed from within, traditional roles will be perpetuated.  Reevaluating, redefining, and rethinking these roles as technology continues to evolve will lead to a blending of these skills.  Lamont asserts (2009) “If managed properly, the best of classic library theory will combine with IT into a dynamic and diverse workforce as well as a thriving and innovative organization”  (p.141).
Technology Strengths and Weaknesses Analysis
As an educator, my greatest strength has been my ability and determination to continue my own learning journey.  When integrating new technology or exploring digital tools, I utilize technology as a resource to self-teach.  Tools such as YouTube, Google Videos, and subscription sites such as Atmoic Learning enable me to investigate, adopt, and implement a myriad of Web 2.0 tools and hardware.  I utilize colleagues and specialists in my district and networks to support my goals to integrate technology.
            In addition to my commitment to life-long learning, I’ve been fortunate to serve in a leadership role providing professional development to teachers, much of which was instructional technology.  My background, although in depth in many areas such as Mac hardware and applications, Promethean, and a few web-based tools, is not necessarily as broad as it could be.  A lack of breadth of knowledge might lead me to miss supporting teachers’ and students’ needs.  In order to improve upon this weakness, I hope to gain insight into resources that will diversify my technology knowledge base in hardware, software, and web-based tools.  My initiative and drive to keep learning will allow me to improve upon my weaknesses. 
Smart phone applications, in particular, are an area where I see tremendous potential for supporting digital students; however, I feel intimated by the sheer number that are out there let alone how best to determine their quality and usefulness.  Learning to utilize personal devices and piloting initiatives such ad BYOD days (bring your own device), will support students’ information fluency.  Information bombards students at astounding rates through their own personal devices they carry with them.  If we can help students to harness the device as a tool rather than a perpetual information conduit and critically evaluate information, this will positively impact their problem solving and digital citizenship skills (Smaldino et al., 2012).
            In addition to personal devices, I hope to continue to gain experience designing and maintaining engaging, interactive sites, blogs, and spaces. I envision creating a virtual space as diverse and extensive as the physical library for students and teachers that integrates traditional learning methods with 21st century literacies and skills.  In order to create such a space, I will continue to experiment with and become efficient in using platforms such as Google, Posterous, WordPress, collaboration sites, etc.
A transition from the classroom or even professional development department into library and media specialist is a challenging process.  Fortunately, I feel that my drive and motivation to continually learn will allow me to meet these goals as I diversify and integrate my own skill sets and qualities.
References

Lamont, M. (2009). Gender, Technology, and Libraries. Information Technology & Libraries, 28(3), 137-142. doi: 1837038311.
Smaldino, S.E., Lowther, D.L., Russell, J.D. (2012).  Instructional Technology and Media for Learning.  10th ed.  Boston, MA:  Pearson.