Explore: I chose to explore Google+ Hangouts more in depth. I worked with the application for about 30-45 minutes just pressing buttons and keys to see what the capabilities were before really diving intoo the application. I encouraged two of my colleagues to join a hangout with me so I could actually see it in interactive mode. After that trial run, I feel this would be the perfect application to use to host a live lesson with students. I would be able to see them, hear them, and chat. It is also user friendly to all ages in my opinion. All I would need to do is invite them digitally, they join the hangout, and voila we are on the road to synchronous learning.
Answer: I chose Google+ Hangouts as my synchronous vendor application/tool. I experienced it to be user friendly, but you can’t record just a simple Google+ Hangout. However, you can record a Google+ Hangout “On Air.” My first impression was this is an easy application to navigate. I had no issues starting the hangout or adding people. I was able to use written and verbal commands. There were simple commands that led me through the actual set-up and beginning of the hangout. You can post a poll, tag your location, add links, and pictures. I can foresee only two challenges or problems. One there is a possibility of someone on the Google+ Hangout On Air having poor internet connection which would cause the synchronous session to be difficult. They could default to just using the chat option if necessary. The second challenge could be getting all the students on at the same time. Luckily, each Hangout On Air can be recorded and saved to my Youtube channel for later reference if someone doesn’t join.
Reflect: While going through this module, I realized there are both strengths and weaknesses to synchronous learning.open source versus commercial software in a synchronous learning environment. I had several questions about weaknesses floating through my mind about accessibility and affordibility. A student must have access to the necessary software to participate. If a certain commercial software is chosen by the instructor, instead of open source, a student could have difficulty affording the software making it not accessible to them. On the other hand, using open source materials requires IT work which takes much time due to upgrades, integrating, hosting, etc…
Answer: Open source applications would take precedence over commercial products when not all students could afford or manage to get access. Open source materials are free and students are guarateed access. Unfortuately, there are some issues when choosing between open source and commercial products. The commercial products sometimes have greater capabilities than the free open source materials. Teachers must spend time researching the different softwares before planning to use them in their online class. Bottomline, commercial and open source materials are good, but they have there pros and cons. Commercial can be expensive to the student; whereas open source is free to the student, but requires much IT work for continued success.
Create/Artifact: View my Prezi on Asynchronous and Synchronous Learning here:
The Participate module gave me a wealth of knowledge to prepare me to meet standards C, E, and J for Quality Online Teaching such as learning about:
I feel more prepared where digital learning is involved. Being a Level 2 Google Certified Educator made me think that I knew all there was to know about online learning. I was wrong. I had no idea that so many things went into online Netiquette and just the responsibility of utilizing the internet as a teacher, student, and parent.
I will take away many strategies that I will apply in my teaching. One of the first things I will do is create a digital and print copy of a Netiquette poster. I think this is a good reminder for teachers, students, and parents. Secondly, I will check AUPs more closely and make sure that they are adhered to within the classroom. Thirdly, I will work more diligently to ensure that my students know how to stay safe and secure on the internet.
There were several lessons that I found beneficial.”Collecting Reputable Sources” was beneficial because it is helpful for me and the students. “Digital Resources and Netiquette” was beneficial because it provides myself and students a guide to online activity. “Digital Health” was beneficial because it just isn’t something you think about too often. The most beneficial module was “Digital Safety & Security” because it showed me how to keep myself safe and the students within my classroom.
Create: a digital calendar
Answer: I modified my technology habits by increasing the amount of movement in my day to day activities, reminding myself to sit up straight, and took two days off on Saturday and Sunday to be tech free. It’s unreal how much time I spend on the computer in my day to day job activities. Putting breaks in intentionally brings it to the forefront of my mind.
I think the most important means of being proactive and keeping a balanced blend of techology and well-being is by taking days off away from technology. This can be almost impossible, but it can be done. I put my cell phone away at dinner time, during meetings, and when I am with a group of people.
Teachers can ensure good digital health for their students by mixing up the types of lessons they are preparing for their students. There needs to be a good mixture of online work and one-on-one discussion with classmates. Students need to learn how to socialize with others.
I created the artifact on digital safety with students and a classroom in mind. I kept the information simple. It can easily be turned into a poster for any classroom. For each of the letters on the poster a short mini-lesson could be created to add more details. Some great discussions could be had involving the strategies on the poster. Teachers can use the poster to help students remember important strategies for online safety during the school day and when they go home at night. It could possibly be turned into a bookmark that students can keep with them at all times.
Artifact: An educational digital learning community needs to be a safe environment for teachers, students, parents, and any other stakeholders using the internet. As I looked through the resources available throuh the “Digital Rights and Responsibilities” module I found several things to be necessary for a DLC. I found three things to be absolutely necessary within a DLC: an up-to-date AUP, knowledge of copyrights and fair use, and Creative Commons. These things will make up a huge part of a DLC and if handled appropriately will help the community to thrive.
- A DLC can protect its members by requiring all members to sign an AUP. The AUP needs to be up-to-date and valid for the DLC it is protecting. If a DLC is geared more toward younger user then the AUP needs to be written in parent/student friendly language that is easy to understand. It needs to be signed by both parent and student. There also needs to be an opportunity for parents and students to ask questions about the AUP if they do not completely understand something found in the agreement. Guidelines for what happens if the AUP is not followed should be discussed prior to signing the AUP. To aid in maintaining a useful AUP, there needs to be resources within the DLC that are easily accessible for users to learn about copyright laws, Fair Use, and Creative Commons. Sometimes laws are broken and the person doing it doesn’t know they have done it in the first place. A huge role of the DLC is to educate users on how to appropriate function within the community.
- The best way to maintain a DLC is too regularly monitor the content on the website to make sure that the AUP is being followed. Simply having someone sign a document, whether it be hard copy or digital, is not enough. If content is inappropriate or copyrights are broken contact needs to be made between the creator of the DLC and the party in question. If a person is new to a DLC they will explore the community to get a sense of what is and is not acceptable. If unacceptable things are found then the DLC will dwindle.
Answer: My level of access to digital resources is quite good. First of all, my download speed is 14.61 Mbps and my upload speed is 5.72 Mbps from my home. It is even quicker at my workplace. Using the National Broadband Map I found that our home internet service is the fastest offered in our area. The county I live is ranked 23rd for broadband availability among the other counties in Georgia. Secondly, I have the ability to see, hear, operate a computer, and have the cognitive ability necessary to combine all these things to access digital resources.
I am one of the lucky ones that has no barriers keeping me from digital resources, but not all students are that lucky. Some do not have access due to where they live or the cost of internet. These are things that can be handled through school outreach and other community services.
There are four main categories of disability that can keep students from accessing digital resources:
Visual: blindness, low vision, color-blindness;
Hearing: Deafness and hard of hearing;
Motor: Inability to use a mouse, slow response time, limited fine motor control;
Cognitive: Learning disabilities, distractibility, inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information.
As a teacher there are things that can be done to work around these barriers:
- closed captioning
- possibly lip reading or sign language
- Mouth stick
- Head wand
- Single-switch access
- Sip and puff switch
- Oversized trackball mouse
- Adaptive keyboard
- Eye tracking
- Voice recognition software
- How a website is set up
- structural organization
- visual organization
- white space
- Use clear and simple writing
Research: I reviewed the websites found within the provided Symbaloo list. I had already visited them from the Participate 2- Joining a Digital Learning Community so I moved on to the extra resources found at the bottom of the page. I explored CML, Media Smarts, and NAMLE. I bookmarked all three for future reference labeled as “Media Literacy.”
Artifact: After exploring the extra resources here is what I found:
CML (Center for Media Literacy) contains lots of helpful resources for educators and parents. There is an up to date newsletter and short videos explaining exactly what media literacy is and why it is important. You can find resources on advocating for media literacy and professional development on multiple topics. There is an area to search for best practices, resources, and a place to shop for materials.
Media Smarts: This website was very similar to CML, but I did find it to be organized in a more user friendly fashion for my taste. Digital Media is broken down into three categories: general, media and digital issues. Within these areas you can find games, resources, and materials for media resource week. I like the way there is a section separated for parents and for educators. The parental section is broken down into hot topic issues for today’s students. Within the teacher section you can find lessons, resources, and curriculum. There is also a blog where anyone is free to post comments.
NAMLE (National Association for Media Literacy Education): This site is a good mix between CML and Media Smarts. It is user friendly and content heavy. Core principles are available and a journal with current and archived media literacy texts. I didn’t find this site to be as organized as I would have liked for a parent. I feel it is more geared toward educators than parents.
Answer: The three most important tools I found were all on the Media Smarts website. The first one was the “Digital Issues” section. I have already shared it with the technology teacher within my building because it is broken down into the topics that need to be covered with all students using the internet. The second one was the “Lessons and Resources” section. Here a teacher can do a simple filtered search and located hundreds of lessons on any given topic or media type. The third one was the “Parent Resources” section. It had all the hot button issues that children face online broken down by topic. The texts were easy to read and could easily be shared from parent to student.
Students can be taught to safely locate tools and resources to enhance their learning by simply checking the validity of a URL. Teach them to look for websites ending with the four most common/safe URLs for information: .mil; .gov; .edu; .org When evaulating a website or source teach students to consider these five things: audience, accuracy, credibility, point of view, and currency. This video posted by Baker University Library is a great example of these five things. The video describes that a student must be the “Sherlock Holmes” of the internet to make sure that a website is valid. Check sources, organization, About Us sections, etc… Do these things on the front end and you will end up with valuable information. The bottomline is students have to put some work into validating their sources.