TED and Me

Technology, Education, Design and Me.

ToS in a digitally social world

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Wow. I always had a hunch, but I have never really looked closely at the Terms of Service for some of the most well-known social software sites out there. I say wow because I now realize that my rights are not as protected as I (naively) thought.

One of the ETEC565 Toolkit exercises asks us to choose 4 social software sites and:

Read each TOS thoroughly, highlighting key language, and ascertain:

  1. Who “owns” materials posted by members?
  2. For what purposes can these materials be used?
  3. Would using each site be appropriate with your students?
  4. In your opinion, how well are the privacy interests of members represented?

I chose 4 that I either use often or have experimented with: Facebook, Second Life, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Out of the 4, I would say Twitter protects the privacy interests of its members the most. In fact, I feel quite confident now in using Twitter more for this reason.

Second Life comes in, well, second – a distant second. The ToS gives Linden Labs permission to use your content for promotional purposes, unless members – in writing – ask them not to. This is the same for Facebook and LinkedIn, although Facebook seems to be a little sketchier about the rights of its members. It seems that they try to get away from any responsibility for whatever backup, copied, remixed content of its members is still out there, giving them the go ahead to use that, too.

The main reason for these ToS is allow the companies to use whatever they seem fit for promotional purposes, which is not surprising. I mean: they are businesses. But what concerns me is the number of educators and students that may be using these services without realizing that their content is no longer 100% theirs. How much trouble could this cause down the road for schools, teachers and students? I wonder with some concern.

Written by seanmcminn

July 26th, 2009 at 8:49 pm

My Audacity in the classroom

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I’ve been working with Audacity for some time in the classroom and the ToolKit exercise for ETEC565 was very straight forward. Simply put: Audacity is great for educational purposes. See here for a brief description of Audacity in Education.

Prior to ETEC565, I have been using Audacity in an ESL course where students must create episodes for our university student podcast magazine. I show students how to use the program for creating professional audio content, but I also show them how they can use it to reflect on their own language use, whether for pronunciation, stress, intonation, or even word choice.  By displaying how Audacity can operate in a similar way as MS Word (i.e. cut and paste words), I found that students pick up the program very quickly.

I’m experimenting with Audacity again.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I have been playing around with goanimate.com, a very easy to use animation application. During a summer course I’m teaching right now, I’m asking students to write creative stories (short plays) that deal with a common English language problem for Chinese speakers. They must record their stories using Audacity and add an audio component to their animation that they’ve created.

I’m finding that the combination of students creating a visual product (animation, plus text in speech bubbles) and producing a corresponding audio creates an engaging environment. My hope is that as they produce the text, audio, and animation they are constantly reflecting and learning the language – and in a fun way! We shall soon see.

Written by seanmcminn

July 23rd, 2009 at 9:39 pm

Digitally storytelling the possibilities!

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In ETEC565, we were asked to:

Select one of the web 2.0 tools from the ones listed on the page (or others that you know of if you want), and create a short media piece that tells a story.  You can tell a story about yourself or about some issue.  You can also use the tool to tell a story that could be used in your classroom in relation to an activity or part of your curriculum.  You choose.

I chose goanimate.com to tell my story. You can read more about why here.

I also said in an earlier post that I would comment a little on Jenkin’s book. I’m about halfway through and i think that it’s been a very informative read Here are just a couple of points from the bookthat I’d like to highlight (I also talk about this on my digital story page).

Jenkins identifies four activities youth should develop skills in, especially in today’s media changing word:

  • Affilitations: Memberships, formal and informal in online communities centered around various forms of media, such as Friendter, Facebook, metagaming, etc.
  • Expressions: Producing new creative forms such as digital sampling, skinning and modding, fan videos, fan fiction, ones, or mash-ups.
  • Collaborative problem-solving: Working together in teams — formal and informal — to complete tasks and develop new knowledge, such as through Wikipedia, alternative reality gaming, or spoiling.
  • Circulations: Shaping the flow of media, such as podcasting or blogging.

I believe goanimate.com offers students a chance to develop these skills. However, Jenkins makes a good point that in order for activities to work, and to create an effective participatory culture, cultures (that is educational, national, etc.) must support them (2009); the curriculum must recognize and support these types of technologies and activities. Jenkins also says: “inter-activity is a property of the technology, while participation is the property of culture”. I think that that is an important point to remember.

Jenkins also identifies and discusses three problems:

  • the participation gap (similar, but not identical to the digital divide)
  • the transparency problem (do youth have deeper understanding of hoe media shapes their perception of the world)
  • the ethics challenge (i.e. copyright issues)

Written by seanmcminn

July 18th, 2009 at 1:38 am

Go animate part 2

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In honour of my classmates …

GoAnimate.com: ETEC Life form discovered! by smcminn

I’ll write more about what I think about the pedagogical values of goanimate and similar tools soon.

SIDE NOTE: I just bought the book Confronting the Challenges of Particpatroy Culutre by Henry Jenkins. So far it’s a great read! (I’ll comment more after I’ve read a bit more.)

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July 17th, 2009 at 12:07 am

Go animate!

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I’ve been playing around with some Web 2.0 applications. I created this animation using www.goanimate.com. I’m thinking of having students use this tool to create storyboards, which, I think, has a lot of pedagogical value. Have a look and let me know what you think.

GoAnimate.com: frightened vs frightening by smcminn

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It’s free and fun!

Written by seanmcminn

July 15th, 2009 at 11:40 pm

More wiki-ing around

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It’s been a while since my last entry, but I’ve been traveling from Vancouver to Algonquin Park (what a beautiful place!) to Ottawa to Cambridge, Ontario in the last week and a half. I know in today’s social and mobile media world it’s not an excuse, but, hey, I needed a break. But that’s not to say that I haven’t been playing around with technology for educational purposes. In fact, this past week was rather interesting with regards to social media and communication technologies in education. Or, more precisely, the difference between wikis and discussion forums.

As an activity for the UBC MET ETEC565 course (phew — what a mouthful!), we were asked to perfrom a discussion through a wiki. Here is a part of the task:

Wiki Activity: Social Media and Learning

Both Wesch and Alexander claim that social media (web 2.0, social software) are having a dramatic impact on classroom spaces. How do the trends and issues identified by Alexander and Wesch resonate with your experiences in your own classrooms? What kind of opportunities and challenges do you see associated with using social media in the classrooms within which you teach?

Unlike previous discussions, we are going to conduct this activity in the context of a wiki environment.

Step 1. Wiki Edit

First we ask that you contribute a “sighting” from your own experience of how the presence of social media is apparent in the lives of your students or in how they (or you) interact in the classroom.  We can post our “Sightings” on the following page: 66A Sightings.

 What I quickly discovered was the difference in affordances of each technology. Some things that I wanted to do in the wiki, I could not (or found difficult). For example, unless everyone were equally organized in their standard forms of contributions (adding new discussions, replying to posts, re-replying), the wiki appears to be chaotic with what its discussion feature allow for. A wiki is great for collaborating and creating, but not for discussing ideas (NOTE: we were using MediaWiki).

Don’t get me wrong; the discussion feature of the wiki is very imporatant. How else can collaborators discuss how they want to create their product? But for assessment purposes (i.e. particpation, etc.), the wiki discussion page is, to me, not very useful. It’s diffiult to track, measure, and it’s diffiutlt to standardize or organize. So I prefer the structure and affordances of a discussion forum in WebCT instead. At least, if the purpose is to generate asynchronous communication about a subject hat you want students to learn and discuss about, but not create. On the other hand, creating wiki pages allows for many other learning activities that a discussion forum can not. See here fore information on that part: Wiki affordances.

Written by seanmcminn

July 8th, 2009 at 10:51 am

Wiki-ing it in Moodle

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This post is reflection of my ongoing process of comleting the MET ETEC565 assignment.

I added a wiki to my course in Moodle today. It wasn’t that difficult to set up, although I did hit a bump when trying to figure out how to add new pages in the wiki. Thankfully, Moodle Docs is quite comprehensive and easy to follow, so I figured out how to solve the problem fairly quickly (I wonder how other students and teachers would do).

The wiki is based on an exercise from ETEC510, which I found to be quite a successful learning experience. Here are the instructions for students in the mock ESL course that I am designing, called Styles of English for Science and Engineering Students:

Welcome to the Language Centre’s, Styles of English: A Student’s Guide.

In your course, you are both an author, and an editor, of Styles of English: A Student’s Guide. During LANG101 and 102, you are responsible for authoring one major entry under one of the topics listed in the course syllabus (e.g. the five canons of rhetoric). You will be an active editor of your own solo entries. During LANG 202 and 204, you will also edit/comment on entries written by your LANG colleagues, both from last year’s cohort and from this year’s cohort.

What struck me as being  important about creating this wiki exercise wasn’t about the technical know-how of setting up a wiki in Moodle frm the administrator’s point-of0view. As I set the framework of the wiki I kept asking myself — is the Moodle wiki application the best for the purpose that I want.

Moodle’s wiki is based on ErfurtWiki, and it doesn’t seem to have all the nice features that MediaWiki has. By keeping students and teachers in mind, I’m not convinced that it is the best option. I found its functionaly and usability to be lacking. I would prefer to use MediaWiki or another wiki application that is more intuitive, has better navigation, and has more multimedia options. Still, for simplicity, Moodle’s wiki is fine. I’ll admit that I like the WYSIWYG funtion and the HTML editor. But if you’re looking for more complex collaboration, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Written by seanmcminn

June 11th, 2009 at 6:09 am

Seven Principles For Good Practice in Undergraduate Education

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As I trudge through my MET courses, I’m introduced to useful resources that I would like to share on this blog. One of the more ueful resources introdced to me recently includes: Seven Principles For Good Practice in Undergraduate Education by Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson. Here they are:

1. Encourages contact between students and faculty
2. Develops reciprocity and cooperation among students.
3. Encourages active learning.
4. Gives prompt feedback.
5. Emphasizes time on task.
6. Communicates high expectations.
7. Respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

A more recent article considers technology: Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as Lever by Arthur W. Chickering and Stephen C. Ehrmann. By combining the Seven Principles with the SECTIONS model, one can think more critically while considering what and how to implement any technology into a curriculum.

Written by seanmcminn

June 6th, 2009 at 9:55 pm

What LMS should I use?

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There is no question: the MET programme is teaching me a lot.

We are currently reviewing Learning Management Systems —  something that I am not completely foreign with, but have had only minor experiences with. I have used different LMSs as a student and as a course designer at my university. The exercises in the MET programme have us comparing LMSs (particularly WebCT/Vista and Moodle), discussing questions we may ask ourselves if we were in the position to choose a LMS, and creating a rubric according to a scenario given to us. It’s an interesting and thought provoking exercise. In some ways, thinking of the questions has been an eye-opener. The breadth and depth of issues that you should review when deciding what LMS to use is vast! I would like to provide some of the questions that have appeared in our discussions; ones that I think important for anyone shopping for LMSs. These questions are a mix that considers single courses to departmental and institutional issues.

  1. Will the courses have face-to-face lessons? Or are they entirely online? The answer to these would lead to different questions. Assuming that a course has less F2F interaction, which LMS  provides  the best and most intuitive communication tools (synchronous and asynchronous)? Are the tools easy to manage/moderate from both students’ and teacher’s perspective? What functions do the communications have (do they allow students to create groups? etc.)? Are statistical summaries available of discussions? In what form? These are important questions for various learning objectives, such as tasks that may require students to interact with one another and/or need to collaborate and create something online. Course, It may be important that students are give autonomy with how they organize there discussions. And, if these tasks are being assessed, management and moderation are important.
  2. Is the LMS easily accessible for students on/off campus (depending on how much traffic, size of files being shared, streaming videos, etc.)? Depending where students are, they may have bandwidth issues (or even lack a computer!).
  3. What tools allow for more student involvement? How much can students personalize their environment, create webpages, blogs, wikis, etcs. Again, some of these tools may have sound pedegogical value for certain courses. Can students create their own and personalize their learning needs?
  4. Cost (Financial issues)? This one should be obvious.
  5. What support/assistance (personnel & equipment, migration of course and content, ease of use by faculty and students) does your department/insitution have? This is imporatnt for a variety of reasons. Servers go down and someone will be needed to fix things. But it is also important because there is a strong possibiltiy that some teachers do not feel comfortable with technology in the classroom, and they will need more tehnical supprt than others.
  6. Can content be shared across courses and/or departments? If so, how easily?

These are just a few of the questions one should ask. Of course, there are many, many more. A good site for comparing LMSs is http://www.edutools.info. You an compare the learner tools, support tools and technical tools among numerous available LMSs (unfortunately, Moodle is not included).

Another note: keeping frameworks like SECTIONS in mind (mentioned in a previous post here)  is very useful.

Written by seanmcminn

May 22nd, 2009 at 7:02 pm

21st century schools — a video

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An inspirational video.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScUq7iZk9rQ[/youtube]

Written by seanmcminn

May 19th, 2009 at 10:51 pm

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