Jul 20 2009

omg!…my website sucks!

Published by under web design

Well, the cold, hard reality of web design has hit me! The website that I designed for my students to use to access approved resources on the internet bites! The number of times I had to make the mark on the “Does your webpage suck checklist” is too large to mention. If you have a site and haven’t taken a gander at this please treat yourself with this humbling experience at websitesthatsuck.com.

Looks like its back to the drawing board on this one!

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Jul 19 2009

media and me…

Published by under multi-media

We are finally in the last module for ETEC 565. This one examines multi-media tools. I have certainly experienced alot of these tools throughout the MANY years of education I have experienced! As an elementary and secondary school student the best part of a unit in language arts was always when we got to see the movie based on the book we were reading. I still remember watching the video of a stage production of the Taming of the Shrew in high school. Considering that was 26 years ago that is quite an impact! I still consider this to be my favourite Shakespeare play.

During my time in the MET program I have been able to experience a great deal by way of images, video and audio files. The impact that these make on my learning cannot be overstated. Some of the most memorable and impactful moments came to me by way of a videotaped interview or mash-up. The inclusion of these tools in my program means a chance to step away from the copious amounts of text we are confronted with and live not within the page for a moment but in the mind. I feel a sense of relief that I can sit back and just listen to someone speak about a subject or enjoy the creativity of, and message in, the work of another person. This for me is the essence of the web. It allows people to contribute to the information in new ways and provides an array of options for the learner to watch, listen and experience information through media.

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Jul 07 2009

wiki work…

Published by under Uncategorized

This week’s collaboration was on a UBC wiki that John created for us. As always, the asynchronous nature of the collaboration was very helpful and works great with the wide-variety of “other” demands that are placed on all of us on a daily basis. It was interesting to hear people’s experiences with social media in the classroom. It was quite varied as was to be expected.

I didn’t find the visual appeal of the discussion board to be present in the wiki however. The threads are easy to follow and always have a name attached so you know who is speaking. In the wiki the work was more anonymous when it came to the summing up and key ideas sections. I have worked in a wiki format in a small group and I think that there is a great deal more accountability than in a group as large as our whole section. It didn’t feel like people were as engaged with the discussion as they might have been were we in small groups.

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Jun 30 2009

synchronous communications

Published by under Toolkit

Having access to this toolkit has been particularly helpful for me.  Since I teach in a F2F environment I don’t have alot of call to utilize online communication tools.  The ability to try out a few of these tools has shown me that there are a few applications in my classroom where they could be utilized. 

Inspired by this toolkit I spent a couple of lab periods at the end of the year using iChat at school.  We are a Mac district so this is readily available to me.  What I found useful was the ability to utilize this tool in the lab so that students could collaborate without physically sitting next to each other.  This not only made for an engaging experience for my students but also worked as a management tool to help keep the noise level down in the lab.  This served two functions.   First, it allowed the kids to focus on their work without distraction.  Second, and best of all, the absence of noise for a short period of time for their beleaguered teacher!  : )

The downside of this experience was also a management one however!  Thank goodness for Remote Desktop software!!

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Jun 30 2009


Published by under Toolkit

Thanks to the MET program I have a fair bit of experience with working with a number of wiki platforms.  Here are a few that I have created individually or as part of group …


For ETEC 510 I authored this page on Information Literacy as part of a collaboratively created design wiki.  As I am concurrently working on achieving a specialization in Teacher-Librarianship the issue of new literacies is one that I am very interested in.


Information Literacy wiki

Information Literacy wiki


Here is one for ETEC 511 on the Economics of Educational Technology…


Here is a wiki that I worked on for ETEC 512 on Cognitive Learning theory….



 Reflection…This work in the world of wikis has inspired alot of enthusiasm for the use of wikis in my future classrooms.  The ability to work collaboratively while creating a polished and attractive finished project is one that has a huge number of benefits for students and teachers.  Not insignificant in this lesson is the opportunity to demonstrate for students how easy it is for anyone to publish information on the web and the subsequent need for critical analysis of the source of all information that they encounter. 


In my own work with these wiki platforms I found them to be unanimously user-friendly and intuitive.  The use of  a WYSISYG environment makes them usable for students even at the mid-primary level.  The most surprising aspect of wiki creation was the number of freely available sites to use.  With decreasing budgets the school districts are unlikely to spend any money they don’t deem “necessary” and the availability of open-source products makes the pitch to use them that much easier for tech-focused classroom teachers.


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Jun 18 2009

To quiz or not to quiz…

Published by under assessment,Moodle

As I have already said I am not a real user of quizzes.  I am more of a show me what you know kind of teacher.  As I teach in a F2F situation I am not sure about the benefits of setting up detailed questions in Moodle for subjects such as socials, language arts or science.  I have put the whole quiz together to satisfy the course requirement but I am still not sure how using an LMS platform is beneficial for short answer and essay questions.  It seems that the short answers for these types of questions need to exactly match what I have plugged into the course in order for the student to get credit.  Otherwise I need to manually override the grade.  Perhaps I am still not understanding this type of question.

The essay questions are still manually marked by the teacher so I can see no benefit there.  I am no Moodle expert though so, again, perhaps I am missing something. 

Overall, I can see the benefit for other, less subjective, types of questions and would definitely continue to explore their use in my F2F classes.  The process was fairly straight-forward, albeit time-consuming, and the finished look is very attractive and simple to administer.

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Jun 13 2009

Muddling over Moodle (or…a steep ascent!)

Published by under assessment,Moodle

I have spent the better part of today learning about Moodle.  I have chosen to try and develop an online version of a Cariboo Gold Rush unit that I do with my grade 5s.  I am struggling with the mechanics of Moodle and am still not sure where to post certain types of information.  Text page?  Web page?…

So much to learn!

I am also struggling a bit with how to utilize some of the great assessment tools that I have developed in an attempt to give students a wide variety of ways for them to show what they know.  I am not a teacher who uses quizzes.  I am much more likely to have my kids develop a poster, create a skit or write a letter in-role to demonstrate that they understand the challenges of the people that we study in socials.  How to deliver this kind of assessment within a course shell format I don’t know.  This will obviously require some further research.

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Jun 13 2009

Communicating while Moodling…

Published by under Moodle

The unit that I am creating in my Moodle course site is one that will focus on perspective.  Students will examine the gold rush in the Cariboo from the perspective of different groups who were present and will not just look at life as it pertained to the miners.  I chose to have the students work in a forum that would utilize a jigsaw strategy wherein each pair of students would learn about their person and then teach the other groups about that person by introducing themselves in-role. 


I wanted make sure that the other students read and thought about the experiences of these major gold rush characters so I have required them to respond to each of the other group’s characters in-role as well.  I have provided some suggestions for how they might go about this but think that this format will provide a lot of opportunity for students to display some critical thinking skills.


I also fully intend to create my own character, fictional or otherwise, and participate in the forum myself.  This will allow me to ask students questions and try to challenge their knowledge of the time period.  The asynchronous aspect of the forum environment will allow students the time to go and research the answer to any questions they may be given.


From the teaching perspective I feel that using a forum will allow me to easily track participation as each group will have its own thread.  Groups failing to participate will be obvious. 


In addition to this I would also like to have the students create blogs in their own voice as another way to demonstrate their learning.  I have been unable to figure out how to set up a blog in Moodle yet so I will continue on with my quest!



***An update to this post…For now, I have given up on the blog as discussion with fellow classmates and my online research shows that an internal blog format is something that Moodle is still working on.  My school district is quite restrictive about allowing the students to access blogging sites so I have chosen to insert a chat into the course shell instead. 

As part of the Gold Rush unit my students will be reading the novel Cariboo Runaway.  The chat format will be one that I think the students will find engaging as it is something they have not experienced in the classroom.  It will be conducted during class time in the lab and will test the students understanding of the novel as well as their ability to respond to higher-order thinking questions that relate the fictional characters to real characters from the Gold Rush that they have studied. 

The chat function may be limited by the fact that students who have a better understanding of the novel may monopolize the discussion so accountability will have to be built in by requiring a number of contributions from all students.  Another limiting factor may be the typing issue but they have spent enough time on All The Right Type haven’t they?

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Jun 01 2009

blog toolkit

Published by under Blogging,Toolkit



I never really thought I would “get” the whole blogging thing but it turns out I am really enjoying it.  I don’t like the fact that I have 4 going right now for different courses and I wish I could keep one that would be easier to keep track of but when I get past the MET requirements I should be able to achieve this.

Going through the blog toolkit led me to some really great blog links.  I was so impressed by Edublogger that I have added an RSS feed to my blog (one of them anyway!) so I can keep up with it.  I had no idea what an RSS feed was a couple of weeks ago never mind how to add one to my blog so I am really feeling quite proud about this.  I can’t wait to get my own class (hopefully in the fall!!) so that I can try blogging and a host of other applications with some real kids.

One response so far

May 31 2009

Project Proposal

Published by under Project Proposal

To: Decision Maker

RE: Choosing a Learning Management System for the delivery of Grade 5 Socials curriculum


Dear Ms. Maker,

My colleague and I, both grade 5 teachers, are proposing to design an online delivery format for the curriculum for grade 5 social studies as a way to make the process more engaging and learner-centered for the students.  This means that we will need to critically examine the options for Learning Management Systems (LMSs) available for our use.   For the past several weeks I have been reading reviews of two different systems and looking at the current literature on their application strengths and weaknesses.  This proposal will recommend that we, as a district, choose and provide support for teachers using the LMS known as Moodle (available for viewing at Moodle.com).


My initial research began with an examination of both Moodle and another LMS known as WebCT/Vista.  Both offer many similar features but reviews of Moodle and my own observations show intuitiveness in the Moodle platform that is not present in WebCT/Vista (Edutools and Mac Update sites).  Moodle also seems to require little in terms of administrative support based on these reviews.  This platform will allow my colleague and I to upload web-based tools, utilize its online testing system, and have our students create weblogs and wikis and have chats with their classmates about their projects (Perkins, 2006).  In terms of constructivist learning the Moodle platform will allow the students to collaborate on their learning and to co-create products as they work through the modules.


Moodle’s main advantage over WebCT/Vista is that it is an open source product and does not require the district purchase a license to run it.  The district is currently using an open source software (OSS) product called Open Office for word processing, spreadsheet applications and presentation tools in our schools.  As you know, OSS products are not proprietary.  The District’s server will be able to host Moodle which will allow for administrative ease (Perkins, 2006) and discussions with the technology department have demonstrated that little will be required on their part to upload the software.  Ongoing technical support will be available through Technology Services.


As we would be setting this course up for our own use we would not require anything in terms of release time for pre-term setup but we would ask that during the initial course phase of course implementation we would be allowed four half days each of release time with TOC coverage so that we could consult and attend to challenges that arise as we begin implementing this project.


The long term goal for this project is to create a dynamic learning space that other teachers can share and build upon and that will inspire an interest in the field of social studies in our students.  We feel that this format will help us create a community of learners who will construct meaningful learning experiences.  We hope that you will support us in this endeavour.




Louise Thomson




Edutools.  Retrieved May 31, 2009 from http://www.edutools.info/static.jsp?pj=4&page=HOME


Mac Update (Moodle and Blackboard Reviews).  Retrieved May 31, 2009 from http://www.macupdate.com/reviews.php?id=12048


 Perkins, M., et. al. (2006), Using a Course Management System to Improve Classroom Communication. The Science Teacher.  v. 73 no. 7, p. 33-7.


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