TED and Me

Technology, Education, Design and Me.

Archive for the ‘digital age’ tag

Schoology, OSS, oh my …

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Go figure that, after submitting my MET assignment (see previous post), I would discover alternatives to the “traditional” CMSs (Blackboard) and OSS CMSs (Moodle).

A new form of CMS in the market is the Social CMS, which I believe to be following the infrastructure of online social networks like Facebook. The example I’m talking about is Schoology.

From their brochure:

Schoology has created a course management system built on a social network. While current course management systems utilize some social network features, Schoology has taken a unique approach by first building a social networking platform and then adding in the essential course management tools.
A social network provides objectivity, allowing searchable profiles for users, groups, courses, assignments and schools. Instead of interacting with just an interface or website portal, users can interact with dynamic profiles, greatly enhancing the learning experience.
Schoology provides students and educators with all the  essential course management tools, including an online gradebook, student roster, course assignments, school events, class attendance, user management and online report cards. These tools are seamlessly integrated with Schoology’s social network to create the ultimate digital and interactive educational environment.

Schoology seems to be taking into account what I expressed early: Web 2.0 technologies need to be considered as competitors/alternatives among the more “traditional” CMS.

Good. But I’m still not convinced. The infrastructure still seems to be restrictive, limiting pedagogy. True: they’re going with the online social network trend; and, yes, communication and collaboration opportunities seem to be seriously taken into account. But what about being able to incorporate other online technologies, like Second Life, animation-making tools, or wikis. It seems, in this case, that a CMS is just a CMS. Students and teacher are restricted to a set/narrow pedagogical approach within 4 digital walls.

Do we really need another confined digital learning space? Or should we find new ways to harness the affordance of digital technologies for learning.

Written by seanmcminn

October 24th, 2009 at 11:52 pm

Amusing Ourselves to Death

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Someone shared this through Twitter and I thought that I’d share here. It’s a nice visual comparison with a frightening truth to it.

Amusing Ourselves to Death

Amusing Ourselves to Death

Written by seanmcminn

July 26th, 2009 at 10:53 pm

Posted in Cool stuff

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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.)

Written by seanmcminn

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

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

My ETEC565 Flight Path

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About five years ago I was hired to teach an online ESL course for 1st year university students. Prior to that, my only experience with “contemporary” technology and education was email and Power Point – all of which was teacher-centred! It was a very steep learning curve for me. Since then, I have moved on from the online course (which I now realize was quite didactic, stagnant and lacking interactivity) to more interesting ways of embedding and incorporating technology into ELT, shifting to a more student-centered or social-centered practice.

As I teach and design more courses at the university (and continue my MET studies) I try to be more aware of how I can include technologies that encourage and enhance learning creativity, such as using asynchronous voice boards (GONG, which similar to Wimba) and podcasting (Campus Beat). The Campus Beat course at my university requires students to use Audacity and various online resources to produce a podcast about newsworthy events, which encourages students to explore current events. Meanwhile, I attempt to promote various Web 2.0 technologies that can assist students with their language learning. I am also currently trying to promote the “rip, mix, remix” approach to learning (considering the issues of copyright, of course), by having student produce video essays for a stylistics and rhetoric course. Wikis and blogs are my next thing.

My goals for 565 are to learn more about the pedagogical value of “digital-age” technologies and how I can make them “invisible” in the curriculum. A recent setback in introducing online social networks into the curriculum made me rethink my approach. This lack of invisibility was also a major problem with the online courses that I first taught at the university. I am also hoping that hands-on experiences in ETEC565 will give me more technological know-how, such as web designing. And, finally, there’s assessment. How can technologies be used for assessment, such as students assessing their own progress, peer evaluation, and formative assessments?

Written by seanmcminn

May 9th, 2009 at 10:11 pm

Posted in Flight Path

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