Sep 17 2010

Assignment #1 – etec 511

Published by under Etec 511

Mash-up by Catherine Gagnon

Mash-up (mashup): combining content from various sources to create original work. Other terms used to describe mash-ups are remix, collage, reuse, juxtaposition, derivative work.

In order to create a mash-up, certain applications are now available that allow the user to combine other applications that were once proprietary. Mashups are centered on the consumer as they allow the use of standardized data and access formats such as RSS which could be defined as “Web-accessible”. Creating a mash-up is incumbent on using data sources that require minimal manipulation for the user to make sense of it. (Crupi & Warner, 2008)


In the first iteration of applications (web 1.0), companies usually created software that had to be used with their permission and could not be combined with other applications, examples are Corel Draw and Dreamweaver.

With the advent of the web 2.0, end users are now able to combine various applications to reformulate a product (deriving) or create a new product from a collage of existing data.

Examples of mash-ups in various domains

There are 3 different varieties of Mash-ups – Data, Consumer (end user) and Business. Consumer mash-ups are a combination of different data types, for example audio and video data to create a new Youtube movie.

  • Science: Medical researchers extending their collaborative efforts by comparing and joining public research collections with internal research databases.
  • Business: A investment adviser making decisions based on mashing internal analysis data combined with Web-based financial and news data.

Use of Mash-ups in education

Education focuses on 2 major aspects of Mash-ups – educators sharing resources and students reusing existing work to resubmit as original work (collage). The first is enhanced by the increased use of collaborative applications such Google Docs and self-publishing tools such as WordPress. The second is a hotly debated issue in education as it blurs the lines between creativity, original work, plagiarism and copyright infringement.

References and additional reading

Crupi, J., & Warner, C. (2008, May 16). SOA Magazine – Enterprise Mashups Part I. The SOA Magazine. Retrieved September 17, 2010, from

Lamb, B. (2007, July 1). Dr. Mashup; or, Why Educators Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Remix (EDUCAUSE Review) | EDUCAUSE. What is EDUCAUSE? | EDUCAUSE. Retrieved September 17, 2010, from

MASHUP in Fiction and Creative Writing. (n.d.). MASHUP in Fiction and Creative Writing. Retrieved September 17, 2010, from

Mashup (web application hybrid) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved September 17, 2010, from

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Mar 27 2010

public spaces in the classroom

Published by under Uncategorized

I started using blogs and wikis in my classroom only last year.  Downes (2004) suggests that blog might be used as a class repository of comments, resources, links and even a calendar to follow assignments.  I never thought of blogs as such a tool.  They seem more suited to creativity and research, and possibly, given the right students, creating a community of learning.  Unlike the example of St. Joseph school in Downes’ article, I only use individual blogs and for only one part of my course.  I have used a wiki for a class project as well.

Throughout this unit, and following the assigned readings, I started to think about how self-publishing and public spaces are changing my classroom environment.  The emphasis has been placed on knowledge and understanding for many years and I always found it difficult to use the textbooks in a lively fashion.  It seems to me that the material in school texts becomes outdated too quickly and simply follows the line of thought that the author wants to explore.  Larry in etec565 said something about good books being the only place where good information was found.  In order to keep students questioning and making links, I think we need to look at other sources of knowledge.  And here is where the transition to a different way of learning/teaching starts – we have gone from knowledge and understanding to inquiry and application.

This semester, in particular, I’ve found myself getting completely away from having students read texts, news articles and have spent less and less time giving notes.  Those seem too static to me.  The past practices of making presentations are becoming more and more outdated.  Where once a slideshow would intrigue students, I now find the same glazed over look as soon as the projector goes on.  These children (16-18 yr olds) grew up with toys that were completely interactive, they don’t want to learn in a passive mode, maybe they can’t learn that way anymore.

Another skill that continues to need refining is that of active listening and discussing.  This is difficult to address and online discussion, whether on a wiki or a blog, in the form of comments, is a major benefit of  public spaces.  The other major benefit to using this style of discussion is that students can choose the direction of their inquiries, unlike sitting in a class and having to listen to every presentation before they can ask questions or are asked questions.  This is more in keeping with the constructivist theory of learning.

Downes and Fisch (2007) address the improvements seen in the quality and quantity of writing that is afforded by online journaling.  Students generally do rise to the challenge of creating material that is original, suitable for many audiences and contains fewer typos.  Allowing the public to comment on these spaces does pose privacy and security issues and many teachers/institutions are addressing these.  In our school board, we are moving to google docs for collaborative writing and web design.  Since we have our own domain, students are free to share ideas that will only be seen by our school community.  It does limit the input of expert commentators (such as a marketer or a banker) but it does not preclude the teacher from inviting outside comments in a controlled environment.

One other skill that I think collaborative writing develops is the ability to work in cooperation with others.  Some students still are adamant about working alone, while I have noted that others, when given the chance to share the workload, still cannot coordinate the final product, so that we end up with 2 projects or 2 distinct voices within one product (something that is not always the desired effect).  Still, many students enjoy the creative exchange that takes place when planning what to write about.  The availability of the online space is a great benefit to busy senior students who have difficulty managing the work/school balance.

Lastly, working in public spaces teaches the students that they are accountable for what they publish, that content cannot be simply copied and pasted and that sources must be acknowledged in order to show their writings are indeed a synthesis of what they have researched.

All in all, I see the use of wikis and blogs as an excellent tool for moving the teaching style in my classroom from knowledge based to inquiry and application based.  The final element that needs to be addressed is the ongoing education of what is safe, what is appropriate and what is private.


Downes, S. (2004).  Educational Blogging.  Educause Review.  September/October 2004 Accessed online 26 March 2010.

Fisch, K. (2007). “Blogging: In Their Own Words,”The Fischbowl. Accessed online 25 March 2010.

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Mar 21 2010

Wikis in the online classroom

Published by under Uncategorized

This week we had a chance to explore wikis in our course.  Although I have used wikis in my own classroom for large projects and I have collaborated on course design using a wiki, I had never really used one for group discussion.  Wikis, to me, are a place to add knowledge in a collaborative space.  Usually information is posted, then edited by other students to make it more in-depth, accurate, easy to read, what have you.  I’ve also used them where one student did and posted research, while the other wove the information into visual and textual presentations.  We have not explored the addition of visuals in this wiki as we did in a previous course I took.

The discussion is not as easy in this wiki format.  The wiki I use for my classes allows a thread to begin and others reply, more in the fashion that we see in the WebCT discussion questions.  We seemed to have felt the need to label our contributions with our names.  That did make it simpler to understand who was responding to what post.

One of the advantages to this wiki discussion format, in that all the information is placed on one page, so it would be easy to follow a thread based on the information, rather than following the author or the date.  It’s a bit like having a lots of snippets of text on a table and being able to rearrange them in some logical order.  With hyperlinks, many of us are starting to follow themes from one document to another rather than reading in a linear fashion.  It is how literature will appear as we continue to convert written text to a digitalized version.

I found it notable that we have not used the wiki for what it does best – allowing editing and additions to communal knowledge.  I sense that my colleagues have not dared to edit work, possibly because people have signed their every entry.  Perhaps it would be best if no signatures were permitted to encourage people to collaborate more freely.

As I write this, I am overcome with an urge to go organize the wiki entries by themes.  Perhaps I will attempt that next and hope others will see it as a true collaboration, not a censure or need to control the direction of the project.

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Jan 27 2010

Pro-D case

Published by under Uncategorized

Professional Development or PD as  Ontario teachers call it.

The elements that seem important in this case is that a place to upload information and discussion is required.  The teacher has minimal resources and not much training in web design.  Connectivity is also an issue.  Dial up is slow.

This brings to mind my daughter’s problems with uploading information and photos to the internet while she was in Nicaragua.  The connection was way too slow to upload more than text.  Images, slide shows and videos were just not possible.  The one thing she could do was update her blog regularly and respond to comments.  She could also use MSN.

So here we enter the realm of social networking.  Discussions are important in advancing ideas.  They get the creative juices flowing.  So Lenora would like to not only share her ideas with colleagues near and far, but also gather new information from an exchange of ideas.  Buffy Ste Marie, author of the Cradleboard Project, seems to expose the problem of distribution of resources:

“Even with regard to local tribal curriculum, teachers in a faraway state can’t find the best of the best in a concise and usable form.”

The nature of the information is an important aspect here.  Lenora can share many ideas without having to use multimedia such as slide shows or videos.  I see her site as mostly text driven.  But of course, she most likely wants to make it more visual than that, recognizing that visual literacy is now included in the definition of literacy (Biebrich, p. 27).

She can certainly address all these needs with a wiki.  Creating a wiki is a small matter.  It costs nothing, it can be created in a short amount of time, especially with good instructions (available online as part of the help function) and it addresses all her needs, including the need for a collaborative space.  She can also set permissions to allow only certain people to collaborate (through a membership she approves).

Not only are the pages collaborative, she can also make use of the discussion function that is integrated in each page.

If she is concerned about commercials on the site, she can ask for a site that is used for education and have no ads show up at all.  Wiki sites can be shared with the world or kept private for members only if she is concerned about confidentiality.

As for formatting pages, this is very similar to a simple wordprocessor.  She can use templates to choose the look and feel of the wiki.

I have used wikis in my classes for over a year now and highly recommend them for their simplicity and ease of use.  You can view one of my class sites at  It took very little time to create the wiki, maybe 2-3 hours to start the initial pages (1 or 2 pages) and make design choices.  I used a model from another course I saw when I attended a workshop.  The workshop was definitely useful for advanced functions such as inserting a video file.  If Lenora can access a workshop on wikis through her school system or her professional organization, she might find it helps her get a head start.  If that is not possible, she can easily find a tutorial on the web or even go to the help function on the wiki site.  She can justify the cost of training to her administrators as a way to integrate further technology into her classroom.  For example, a wiki would be a wonderful way to preserve cultural information by creating a class project where her students are invited to interview their parents and grand-parents and then post the results (it could be something like the adult’s favourite anecdote from their childhood or bedtime story or family recipe).  The Cradleboard project has ideas that could certainly be adapted to a wiki space.

Once the wiki is up, she will be able to add content as easily as saving a file into this new space (uploading).  With text based files, she should not be impeded by the slow connection.  Adding slideshows or videos will also be quick as she can simply post a link on the wiki page.  There are more sophisticated ways to show multimedia, like embedding the files, but she can do quite well without those functions for now.  From then on, it’s a question of maintaining, adding to and administering the wiki (memberships and permissions).  She can spend as little as 2 hours a week on these tasks or more depending on the membership demands and how much discussion happens in the discussion area.

And of great importance, she must make people aware of her wiki.  She can simply announce its purpose and provide a link within her teaching circle or other social network areas she participates in.  Word of mouth is accomplished in many forms.

Lenora is best advised not to use a website at this time unless her school provides a place to host the site.  For example, my board has created a license to use google sites for all its teachers.  Google sites is very easy to use and I would certainly recommend it for its ease of use.  Google docs is another application that might suit Lenora.  The major reason I would recommend a wiki over a website is that she will not be required to learn html.  Having to learn a programming language would substantially add to her time investment in this project, keeping her from her true purpose.


Beibrich, J. L. (2006). Comics & graphic novels: seeing the meeting (Master’s thesis). Retrieved November 11, 2009, from

Capriccioso, R. (n.d.). Cradleboard Curricula | Connect for Kids / Child Advocacy 360 / Youth Policy Action Center. Welcome to Connect for Kids. Retrieved January 26, 2010, from

Marie, B. S. (n.d.). Cradleboard Project. AIPC Homepage. Retrieved January 27, 2010, from

One America – Cradleboard Teaching Project. (n.d.). Welcome To The White House. Retrieved January 26, 2010, from

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