Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Teaching Writing . . . Online: Are we teaching old rules for a new game?

I've been thinking about this a lot. Writing for an online environment is just different than writing for “paper.”  Don’t you think?  Let me say more!

I have been wondering if I am doing students a disservice by insisting on rules that may not apply anymore to many of our newer writing environments – namely, anything that is online.  Some examples might be, discussion forums, blogs, wikis, Twitter, any social media really. You get the idea. Can we continue to ignore the internet?

Here’s another thought for all teachers.  Writing is a highly universal activity.  As much as we know that modeling is important to learning, are we modeling the best writing behavior/skills?

I really want to know what you think.  Are we willing to let go of the scholarly rules for a more mixed media world?  I agree that right now it may be easy to define a proper time and place for each.  But how long will THAT last?

Here are some of the points I want your thoughts on:
  • Are bullet points okay in a graded discussion forum?
  • Are emoticons okay in a graded discussion forum?
  • How do you feel about hyperlinks?
  • How do you feel about hyperlinks instead of a formal Works Cited?
  • What about the more conversational style of online; is that okay for a grade?
  • Can you have an online voice and a paper voice?  It’s kind of like inside and outside voices.
  • What about the use of first and second person?
  • Do we need a five space indent?
  • The internet is meant to be interactive.  Are your online assignments addressing that?
  • Is it okay to include video or images as part of your argument, instead of text or to take the place of quotations, summaries, paraphrasing?
  • What if they really did write to their supposed audience and not their teacher? 
  • Aren't we making some rather misguided assumptions about other readers? Do they care about a classic, five paragraph essay? Is that communicating in the 21st Century?

There are a number of issues that fall under the whole idea that reading online is just different from reading print:
  • Screen size, lighting, being able to focus
  • Are you familiar with the “F” pattern?  No.  That is not a new online swear word.  It’s the eye pattern for how we read a screen, not a “Z” pattern for a book or magazine. 
  • Walls of words seem more like barriers than invitations to learning or conversation. Kind of like this blog post!
  • How do you feel about blocking rather than paragraphing?
  • Could you teach the inverted pyramid style verses the class five paragraph essay? The reader could quit reading at any time - click on a hyperlink or just get bored. 
  • Do we have time to change all our rubrics? I guess the more important question is does anyone have a rubric for using emoticons I can borrow?

I know.  I hear you.  What does all this chatter have to do with the pursuit of excellent communication and writing skills? Most online writing is about persuading (and entertaining) a particular audience to make money.  What if you took the last three words off that last sentence? What’chu got now?

I am doing a short class on writing in online environments next semester, so I've been thinking about all this lately.  I am curious where you land, or if it is even on your radar.  

Just thinkin'
Lee Anne

Thursday, September 05, 2013

What Does Woody Guthrie Have To Do With The Eighth Floor?

Yesterday afternoon Linda, Katy, Scott, and I were invited to visit the Woody Guthrie Center downtown.  WOW!  What a treat.  I am sorry I didn’t  to do this before.  I have attended many events at Guthrie Green – a good friend puts on a Sunday afternoon music series, Horton Records presents the Tulsa Sound.  Perhaps you have heard of it. Just sayin’.   Anyway, so it’s not like I am never downtown. Moreover, it’s not like I haven’t been right across the street many, many times. I honestly didn't even realize it was right there.  Did you?  Have you been?

Deana McCloud is the Executive Director of the center.  Some of you may remember that Deana use to teach at The Eighth Floor.  She gave us a tour of the facility and in the process shared her passion for the center and Woody Guthrie’s legacy.  This facility is something else, too.  Funded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, this museum is the latest and greatest in presentation, preservation, technology, and resources.  Additionally, the museum was built with education in mind.  Deana and the Education Manager are both former teachers. They have created lesson plans aligned to the common core and are building a variety of workshop series.

One such workshop series is in partnership with Horton Records. Check out this Saturday’s workshop on Ownership, Licensing, and Publishing.  The next one is on Sept 29th with Paul Benjaman and Wink Burcham, Songwriting Tips and Tricks. You don’t want to miss this one – two amazingly talented sons of Oklahoma.

Additionally, you will find short performances mixed with discussions, a partnership with Tulsa County Library, “One Book One Tulsa,” another partnership with the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers at OSU Tulsa, and just so much more. 

The Eighth Floor will also be partnering with the museum as part of our workshop series, “Now What? . . .  Mastering Technology Skills for Teaching and Learning.   We are still in the creative stages, but plan to do a blended workshop where the F2F time takes place at the Woody Guthrie Center.  Projects will revolve around the center – imagine the possibilities – writing, music, history, art, pretty much anything, really!  Our workshop last summer, Project Classroom, was a great success and so much fun. This is going to be even better.

As a special treat to our Advisory committee, Deana has offered to host our January Advisory Committee meeting at the museum.  How cool is that!

So, yeah.  You need to check this out.  Read a little about Woody, and see why this is such a shining jewel right here in the middle of T-Town.

Just Sharin’
Lee Anne

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


It's true.  Enrollment is open and there is a spot for you.  

Here's what you need to know:   
  • If your school is a member of The Eighth Floor consortium, you can enroll
  • If you work at that school - whatever your position, you are welcome
  • You can enroll in as many classes as you would like
  • You can take classes more than once if you want to
  • You will get a certificate of attendance for each class you attend
  • We have online and face-to-face classes 
  • You are going to have fun AND learn something new
  • Link to the PDF  http://eighthfloor.org/SchedulePDF/FALL13_8thFloor_16pgs.pdf

Stuff of Note!

SOL Training - (synchronous online learning) All new for the fall semester - The Eighth Floor's much cooler version of a webinar. Less than an hour of hands-free learning and relaxing.  Better than a massage, I've heard people say. No?  Prove me wrong.  

  • Who is Jamie McKenzie?
  • 21st Century Teacher
  • Digital Citizenship
  • LiveBinderss and the Classroom Teacher
  • Google+ You
  • Wikispaces Classroom
  • Trends and Stuff and Things that Make You Go "Ahhh . . . !" 
For details, visit our SOL Training Wikispace: http://soltraining.wikispaces.com/home. You will also find archives of past SOL performances. 

Other New Classes This Fall

Blended Learning - Is there a model for you?  (fully online) 
Blended learning is all about mixing different learning environments. We will look at some of the different options or models for combining online and face-to-face content delivery. No approach is one-size-fits-all, and the beauty in that is the ability to differentiate and help students personalize learning. How do you think blended learning might look in your classroom?
This class meets fully online. (8 hours)
November 12 – 19, 2013

Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-World environment whose elements are supplemented by sensory input such as sound, video, and graphics. Using a tool called Aruasma we are going to construct our own augmented world and take a look at many of the ways we can use this in the classroom. 
Sept 18 W 4:30 – 6:30 pm
Nov 14 TH 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Dec 4 W 2:00 – 4:00 pm

Special Offering
Jamie McKenzie will offer two classes: 
  • Lifting the Bar for the Core Standards - Sept 24, 6:00 - 8:00 pm
  • Questioning 101 - Equipping Everyone with Great Questioning Skills - Sept 25, 8:30 am - 3:00 pm
  • Visit our website for more information http://eighthfloor.org/ 

Online Teaching and Learning Series
Fall is a great time to take this blended course. This class meets online and F2F.  If you are thinking about teaching online, either fully or in a blended format, you will benefit from this class.  If you have questions about the Online Series, contact Lee Anne Morris at lee.anne.morris@tulsacc.edu

If you have questions about enrollment, please contact katy.hoppa@tulsatech.edu

Hope to see you in class this fall!
Lee Anne

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Look! A Squirrel!

Please welcome guest blogger, Janice Airhart

Sorry, but I couldn’t resist.  If you haven’t seen the 2009 animated film Up, you’re probably thinking I’m crazy about now.  If you have, then you’ll recall that the evil dog pack hates squirrels; they just can’t resist chasing them.   At a critical point in the story, Dug (the good dog) distracts his nemesis from tracking down his human friends by pointing out an imaginary squirrel.  It throws the whole pack off the trail.

While I generally have a healthy ability to focus on tasks, I admit to being easily distracted by technology.  Like Dug’s nemesis, I can be thrown off my trail by bright and shiny online toys: links to more blog posts or articles, web sites recommended by a friend, fellow blogger, or Tweeter, free account setup for an educational web 2.0 tool, another educator’s Pinterest board, and so on.  Sorry to say, I sometimes find myself chasing digital squirrels.

In an effort to reign in my addiction to chasing web links (seriously, they wouldn’t be there if you weren’t supposed to click them, right?), I enrolled this summer in the Eighth Floor class, What Now?  Mastering Technology Skills for Teaching and LearningDoesn’t that sound like a power trip?  Who doesn’t want to “master” technology? 

The first week of the class was entirely online on the Eighth Floor Moodle site (See? They already had us navigating the world of learning management platforms—very clever!).  The seven other class members and I watched the posted videos, read articles, completed activities, and interacted through class forums.  As we carried on our virtual discussions and shared goals, I discovered a process for first identifying learning objectives then creating a structure for the technology that supported them.  By the end of the week, I’d drafted a lesson plan for a problem-based learning unit.  But wait; there’s more!

In the second week of class, we met face-to-face for three days in a workshop atmosphere.  Each of us worked on our individual projects, and while we all had different goals, spending that much time together figuring out how to use various programs and tools sparked everyone’s creativity.  I was genuinely energized and inspired by the other teachers. 

The beauty of the course was that the eight of us had as much individual or small group instruction as we needed to complete our projects, no matter what tools we needed to support them.  Some of us wanted to learn about curating sites like Diigo and Delicious, so Linda gave us a mini-lesson.  Some wanted to produce video, and Scott introduced WeVideo.  Want to blog?  Lee Anne’s the go-to instructor.  Ed Hodge could help with logo design and assorted other essentials.   And if something wasn’t working the way you wanted, someone could help you troubleshoot.  I now have a fully developed project plan for use this fall.  In my opinion, this is the best kind of professional development.  Not only did I learn something, I produced something.  How great is that? 

To cap off the course, on Wednesday we presented our projects via a webinar that’s available on the Eighth Floor Wiki site.  Check it out, if you have the time.  I think you’ll agree that the quality of the projects is phenomenal.  Click here to watch the webinar video, but don’t forget to come back when you’re done.  You can’t spend all day chasing squirrels.

Janice Airhart teaches science and English at the Margaret Hudson Program/Broken Arrow Public Schools, and is a Freshman Composition adjunct instructor for Tulsa Community College.  She blogs at http://learningisthereward.com

Friday, June 21, 2013

Pop-Up Learning – Wave of the Future?

You guys have seen the pop-up shops, right, especially around the holidays.  These are great little establishments that pop-up on the side of the street or at a park or in small lobby fronts or wherever crowds may gather.  These are artist or business owners that are literally taking it to the people.

So, follow me on this, what about pop-up learning?  Pop-up teacher professional development?  What if The Eighth Floor were to pop-up just when you needed it? Learning with an entrepreneurial flavor. Are you curious? 

I know!  This all seems like crazy talk, but honestly, I can envision it.  I think it would be worthwhile AND fun. 

You can thank Samantha Reid and Edutopia for putting these goofy little ideas in my head. Check out this short article:   Five Future Trends That Will Impact the Learning Ecosystem

Here’s a vocabulary list to help you pick the more interesting ideas – can you figure out what they mean?
  • FabLab – Did you know we have one in Tulsa?  We are quite lucky
  • Learning Entrepreneurial Style
  • High Fidelity Learning Environments
  • CYOS – Create Your Own School
  • Talent Clouds (love this!!!)
  • Classroom/Student Projects that solve problems and change communities.

Are you at all intrigues by anything in this article?  I can’t stop thinking about it.

Just thinkin’
Lee Anne

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Summer time is your time for learning fun.  All year long it’s about the students – student learning this, student engagement that.  Am I right or am I right?  Now it’s your time.  Let us worry about the learning and engagement. All you need to do is enroll.

Here’s what we have going on this summer
For a full list of Eighth Floor classes, visit our website, http://eighthfloor.org/schedule.html

Stuff of Note!

SOL Training – The Eighth Floor's much cooler version of a webinar.  Less than an hour of hands free learning fun:
  • Digital Collections
  • Google Accounts – How They Work and Why You Need One
  • Web 2.0 Tools for Engaging and Collaboration
  • Evaluating Web Resources
  • Trends in Technology in Education in The Classroom
  • Promethean Topics
  • 21st Century Classroom Project Presentation – Project Classroom
  • Smart Topics #1
  • Smart Topics #2
  • Things That Make You Go “Aahhhh”
  • More info: http://eighthfloor.org/special.html#SOL

Now What?  . . . Mastering Technology Skills for Teaching and Learning
Featured program this summer is Project Classroom
This is a two week, blended course designed for educators who have taken classes at The Eighth Floor or already have some technology skills and are ready for classroom integration.  Your goal is to employ technology in a way that benefits student learning and/or your professional development.  Week #1 is fully online.  Week #2 if face-to-face.
For more on this program:   http://eighthfloor.org/special.html#now.

Other NEW classes include
  • QR Codes for the Classroom
  • Publisher 2010: Making a Calendar
  • InDesign CS5: Making Calendars
  • Promethean Level 3
  • Promethean Marathon

Online Teaching and Learning Series

Summer is a great time to take this more extended blended course.  If you are thinking about teaching online, either fully or in a blended format, you will benefit from this class. If you have questions about the Online Series, contact Lee Anne Morris at lee.anne.morris@tulsacc.edu

Regular Online Courses
Don’t forget we have a handful of regular courses in a short, fully online format:
  • Social Networking Tools for Educators
  • Cyber Bullying
  • Differentiated Instruction and the Technology Classroom
  • Time Management Tools for Educators
  • Crash Course in Copyright
  • Grant Writing 2

If you have questions about enrollment, please contact katy.hoppa@tulsatech.edu

Just Sharin'
Lee Anne

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Rhizonomy and Learning 3.0

I learned a new word today!  Actually, I still wrapping my head around it and what it could mean for teaching, learning, the classroom, educator professional development, my job . . . you get the idea.  The word that could be changing my life is Rhizonomy. It is so new it's not even in Wikipedia yet. Imagine that. 

Steven Wheeler
I am discovering that this is what is behind the idea of learning analytics (see previous post) .  I think we are all familiar with the idea of a taxonomy - organizing, classifying information.  A term that came along with the web, and more specifically Web 2.0, is folksonomy.  A folksonomy falls out from a collective or collaborative method of classifying information on the web. It's more organic, in a way. You may have heard the term used in relation to the practice of tagging information on the web. Tagging is a way of developing a shared understanding or use of something. Am I being too vague? 

    Okay, so, think . . . 
    Taxonomy = Learning 1.0
    Folksonomy = Learning 2.0
    Rhizonomy = Learning 3.0

Shared from Steve Wheeler's blog post on Next Generation Learning  

Rhizonomy = Learning 3.0?  What does that mean? I found a blog post that may help us with this: Next Generation Learning by Steve Wheeler.  I like this paragraph: 
Learning 3.0 will be user and machine generated, and will in all respects be represented in what I will call  'rhizonomies'. The rhizonomic organisation of content will emerge from chaotic, multi-dimensional and multi-nodal organisation of content, giving rise to an infinite number of possibilities and choices for learners. As learners choose their own self determined routes through the content, so context will change and new nodes and connections will be created in what will become a massive, dynamic, synthetic 'hive mind'. Here I do not refer to any strong artificial intelligence model of computation, but rather a description of the manner in which networked, intelligent systems respond to the needs of individual learners within vast, ever expanding communities of practice. Each learner will become a nexus of knowledge, and a node of content production. Extending the rhizome metaphor further, learners will act as the reproduction mechanisms that sustain the growth of the semantic web, but will also in turn be nurtured by it. Learning 3.0 will be a facet of an ongoing, limitless symbiotic relationship between human and machine.
I kind of like the idea that not only do we sustain the growth of the web as users, but we also become nurtured by it. 

Do you think this is possible? 

Just Wonderin'
Lee Anne

Thursday, March 14, 2013

What’s Your Geek IQ – Eighth Floor Quiz

Here's your chance to find out your Geek Quotient. Are you a perfect candidate for Eighth Floor Classes? 

Who invented the internet?
  1.   Ward Cunningham
  2.   Al Gore
  3.   Seriously? Check Wikipedia, you dweeb
  4.   A company called the Pony Interpress

When you book a hotel, you are most concerned about  . . .
  1.   The breakfast buffet
  2.   Sites and restaurants in the area
  3.   Free WiFi
  4.   The closest public transport

If you were a technology device, which would you be?
  1.   PC/Mac
  2.   iPad
  3.   Cellphone - Android, of course
  4.   Laptop

When you set the table for dinner, how do you arrange the utensils around your plate?
  1.   Spoon, fork, knife
  2.   Fork, knife, spoon, cellphone
  3.   Knife, spoon, fork, cellphone never leaves your hand
  4.   Phones aren’t allowed at the table

Your best friend just got a brand new iPhone 3.  You . . .
  1.   Show her your old flip phone and tell her you are worried people will listen in on your calls with a phone like hers. 
  2.   Are impressed she is starting to catch on to the whole “phone thing.”
  3.   Tweet – Instagram – Facebook about it because that’s just too funny.
  4.   You compare it to your original iPhone and think about updating

Your best friend just got a new iPad.  What app do you recommend first?
  1.   eHarmony – JDate – Match.com– it’s a toss up
  2.   FlipBook
  3.   Your favorite JailBreak or QR code
  4.   Angry Birds

When you share a document with someone, your preferred technique is . . .
  1.   Print it out for them
  2.   Email
  3.   DropBox or Google Drive – just depends
  4.   One of those sticks you put in the hole - what are they called again? 

When you can’t figure out how to do something in a program or application, you
  1.   Just give up – you don’t have time for this.
  2.   Ask the techie type person at work
  3.   Click on the help button or Google/YouTube the information
  4.   You phone the application at home.

You use your phone most for . . .
  1.   Phone calls
  2.   Checking your Facebook
  3.   My phone makes calls?
  4.   The clock – it’s huge and you don’t have to put your reading glasses on to tell time.

How many Eighth Floor classes have you taken in the last few year
  1.   0
  2.   1-5
  3.   6 or above
  4.   I sign up but never show up – so I am now afraid to show my face there.

Add up your points!
For each #1 answer give yourself 1 point
For each #2 answer give yourself 2 points
For each #3 answer give yourself 3 points
For each #4 answer give yourself 0 points.

0-9 points - Egghead
Technology is just not your thing, is it.  You never hear from your kids or younger relatives because you don’t know if your phone can text. You keep deleting your contacts from your computer and you don’t know how you to it. You better be enrolled in several Eighth Floor classes.  You need us!

10 – 19 points - Dweeb/Nerd
It’s not all bad – you have some game. Your kids have made sure of that. You can conduct a little business, but beyond that it’s a phone and it’s made for calling people. After all, when was the last time you saw an actual payphone? You use your computer at work, but only for those things that must happen on the computer. Oh, and also to check your Facebook and Pintrest, of course! You need to take your sprouting technology skills and help them grow by taking classes at The Eighth Floor

20-30 points - Techie/Super Geek
Look out Lewis Skolnick and Gilbert Lowell!  There’s nothing nerdy about you, and you feel no need for revenge.  Technology just dances for you. Your only drawback is that you have no tolerance for eggheads and just don’t get dweebs.  You also know too much about technology to suffer integrating it into your classroom. You need to take classes at The Eighth Floor to get over your own self.  Just sayin’. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ten Apps for the Classroom iPad Cart

Shawn Beard is our next guest blogger.  Shawn has taught for The Eighth Floor for a number of years. 

Shawn Beard, M.Ed.
Virtual School Director

Sand Springs Virtual Academy
Sand Springs Public Schools

Recently, our school purchased iPad Carts for use in our schools. The idea was to provide iPads for use in the classroom, but purchasing them on a large scale was too much. So, by providing a cart for each building, the cart could be checked out by teachers to use as a mobile computing classroom. iPads provide the ability to access apps for practice, web 2.0 resources, and sites for classroom research.

Being an iPad user, as I investigated different apps I already had an idea of what I would want on the iPads. But as these were going to be used by different teachers on a larger scale, the thought process was a little different.

Here are a few apps that I found to be crucial the the classroom iPad Cart:

  • Educreations - Like having an interactive whiteboard (IWB) on your iPad, this app, when used with a HDMI cable or Apple TV, allows you to use tools familiar to IWB users. Features include a pen tool, ability to erase, add pictures, text, and most of all, the ability to record. By being able to record what you present, you can save it for later, and even share your presentation with others. 

  • Puffin Free - iPads aren't Flash friendly, so if you're going to show certain web content that is built on Flash, it can be difficult when using the Safari browser. This app (available for free with ads, and for a price to remove ads) gives users the ability to view and interact with Flash content.

  • Free Graphing Calculator - Math teachers will appreciate the ability to use the iPad as a graphing calculator. There are several free calculators available, this is just one of them.

  • iTunesU - The iPad will prompt new users to download this app and it is well worth it. With the ability to download free course content from K-12 institutions, as well as colleges and Universities, this app gives teachers the ability to connect students with content covering thousands of subject areas. Professional Development courses are available through iTunesU too!

  • iBooks - This app may not seem like a teaching tool to some, but many teachers have found that the ability to bookmark, highlight, and add notes to the margins makes the use of this app very handy. For English classes, teachers can download epub files for classic novels from sites such as http://www.gutenberg.org/. eTextbooks can be purchased from many educational textbook publishers, through the iBooks store. 

  •  Socrative - Download Socrative Teacher and Socrative Student and use the iPad as a Student Response System. Create your own assessment questions and deploy them over classroom WiFi.

  • PenUltimate - This note taking tool allows students to take notes in their own "fingerwriting". Keep notebooks by subject area - all for free.

  • Dropbox - download this cloud storage app and create a classroom account that will allow students to upload/store assignments in the cloud.

  • iWork - This bundle of apps from Apple may cost a little ($9.99 for each app; less on the Volume Purchase Program if you buy more than 10), but its worth it. Keynote is a presentation tool similar to PowerPoint that allows you to create and view slideshows. Pages is a word processing app that allows you to create documents. Numbers is a spreadsheet app.
Obviously this is not an all encompassing list of everything you would need, but it is a great place to start. The capabilities of tablets in the classroom are so great that you will discover more as you use them. The camera and built-in microphone make iPads great for creating audio and video projects as well. As you become more advanced in using them, investigate and explore the web for more options. And enjoy!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lose Weight without Even Trying

Renowned scientists have found a previously unfound cure for obesity. Hitherto, it was thought to be a cure, but now it is proven to be a more globally effective antidote to a festering plague.  No personal effort what-so-ever is required.

You clicked on it?  Seriously?   It’s okay, it’s okay.  You just shared your human side.   Man, what I wouldn't give for a previously hitherto unfound cure – not gonna lie.

I have been working on the beginning blogging class I am teaching tonight – looking for some new stuff.  I like to keep things a little fresh, ya know.  What I have noticed is the blogging movement is really picking up speed lately.  Not just what I see online, but I see it in our enrollments. Why?  I have my theories, but what do I know?

I am all for blogging and can think of a million reasons why I would do this both professionally and personally.  On top of that, I don’t know what I would do if the people I am learning from quit blogging.  Yikes!  Would I have to read musty books on what would then be stale information?  (Please don’t translate that into a distain for books – I LOVE BOOKS! --- but there are times when blogs are more appropriate.)

I’m sincerely curious what people are looking for when they start blogging?  I’m pretty sure it’s not a previously unfound cure that was hitherto global.  An infinitive or two would be helpful for me.  Is it to learn, to teach, to promote, to create, to meet Common Core standards, to lose weight by blogging . . . to what?

Just Wonderin’
Lee Anne

p.s. There are still some spots left in the Getting Started with Blogs class.  Just sayin’

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Learning Analytics - Imagine the Possibilities

Several years ago I ran across a phrase that intrigued me: Learning Concierge.  I wrote it on a tiny post-it and it has been stuck to my monitor for quite some time now.  It spoke to me. I think the teacher’s role is going to morph – if not happening already – into something more akin to a learning expediter, information manager, a learning concierge.  Yes, we already do that, but this is different. The student is a little more in charge. Think about what a hotel concierge does . . .  makes your experience excellent and totally worth your while. That person has access to information and resources that the average person does not. The concierge in a good hotel knows stuff that improves the customer’s (student’s) experience.

Twice now, today, I have run across the term learning analytics in respect to future trends.  Learning analytics takes the idea of a learning concierge to a whole new level.  Stay with me here – this is pretty cool. It’s like personal demographics on steroids.

Wikipedia defines analytics as
Analytics is the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data. Especially valuable in areas rich with recorded information, analytics relies on the simultaneous application of statistics, computer programming and operations research to quantify performance. Analytics often favors data visualization to communicate insight.”

Imagine if there were a record of all the information you have researched, learned, seen, shared, created, communities you have influenced or have influenced you, essentially every keystroke – all in one place and it was analyzed for  patterns.  Imagine the patterns: thought, strengths, weaknesses, learning styles, you name it .  Imagine if schools could capture every action of every user and provide real time data on that student - prescribe learning. 

Will Richardson discusses this idea well in his blog post, Future of Learning (?).  It’s the idea of a “learning assistant.”
“As students age, data-driven, virtual “learning assistants” take on much of the job of providing resources and content based on individual interests, and needs, throughout school and beyond. As learners begin to explore topics through searches, these “assistants”, working off of a life’s worth of keystrokes, deliver the most “appropriate” content and connections within a few moments. If asked, they instantly plan a “curriculum” to learn whatever the student is interested in learning, and suggest the most relevant communities to join and experts to interact with. These virtual assistants are networked as well, easily able to find other leaners with similar interests or needs from anywhere to connect them and create spaces for collaboration and further study. Throughout the process, students earn badges of expertise and automatically publish an online, transparent portfolio of artifacts and contributions in order to earn their influence as experts.”

I am just fascinated by this possibility. Do you think this is the way education is going?

Just thinkin’
Lee Anne

Monday, January 07, 2013

Minor’s Favorite Web 2.0 Tools---For Now!

Dorothy Minor is our latest guest blogger on The Eighth Floor.  She has been working with Web 2.0 tools for quite some time and has real experience at practical application. 

Dorothy Minor
Associate Professor, English
Tulsa Community College

After using a variety of Web 2.0 tools over the last few semesters, I have developed some favorites. The Web 2.0 tools I currently like the best are those with the following qualities: free, easy to use, student/teacher-friendly, useful in learning/teaching. I have found a wide variety and number of Web 2.0 tools which fit the criteria listed above. However, I would like to focus on three that fit the criteria and add a bonus item: fun to use: Jogtheweb, www.jogtheweb.com; Bighughelabs, www.bighugelabs.com; and Themeefy, www.themeefy.com.

After creating a free account at jogtheweb, students and teachers can collect Web sites on a particular topic, add comments, and create a title page complete with questions or directions for using the collected sites. This semester, I required my Comp I students to create their own Jogtheweb accounts and collect sources for their research papers in the jog. They then posted their jog links in a wiki I created for that purpose in Blackboard. I had access to the sites the students were using through the links. I also created a jog which I used with students to help them evaluate Web sites. I chose sites that can fool the casual observer into thinking the sites are legitimate when they are not. Interspersed with the bogus sites, I included reliable sites. Students had to investigate all the sites and write a short paper explaining which sites were legitimate and which were bogus along with their reasons for identifying the sites as legitimate or bogus.  For a class reading Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried,” I assembled sites on O’Brien, the Vietnam War, Native American Vietnam veterans’ accounts of their experience in the war, and other accounts of the Vietnam War. On the title page, I included specific questions to guide the students through the sites prior to our classroom discussions of the story. Jogtheweb offers a variety of ways to engage students with material.

Bighugelabs is fun to use because we can use the site to create a poster, magazine cover, movie poster, jigsaw puzzle, and trading cards. After my students read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, they made magazine covers to advertise the story. While the students had fun in developing their magazine covers, they also had to think about the story they had read and incorporate certain elements which I required. The assignment allowed the students to be inventive and resourceful. They showed their finished products to the rest of the class. One student put the price of his magazine as “an arm and a leg.” I thought that was clever in view of the story we had read: Frankenstien. Bighugelabs provides an opportunity for teachers and students to be creative and use the site to showcase ideas they have or to reflect upon readings. Cindy Brock, technology coordinator at Presbyterian Day School, Memphis, TN, offers more ideas for using Bighugelabs on her blog: http://itscindybrock.blogspot.com/2011/03/big-huge-labs.html .

The third Web 2.0 tool to investigate is Themeefy. With a free account, we can produce an online magazine consisting of Web sites, videos, images, and our own text.  The uses for this tool are emerging rapidly. This semester, I developed an assignment for my Honors Comp I students to curate a magazine on topics they had been studying about Japan, our focus in the honors class.  They started by brainstorming on the subjects they wished to include. The assignment had specific requirements such as the number of Web sites, videos, and topics to include. Students were then free to add other material as they saw fit; they included additional videos or images to illustrate the points they wished to make.  Then they presented their findings to the rest of the class.  As with JogtheWeb, we can collect Web sites for students to evaluate, mixing in legitimate sites with bogus ones. We can also assemble sites on a particular subject so that students have the material in one place for further study.  We can take screen shots of the computer and documents and load them into a Themeefy magazine. For an online class, the possibilities are intriguing for including our syllabus, sample papers, videos of important content, and other materials. Themeefy offers a variety of uses for both students and teachers.

Jogtheweb, Bighughelabs, and Themeefy open up new worlds for students and teachers alike. They give us the opportunity to be creative while we use technology to enhance our learning and teaching. If you have not seen these tools, give them a test drive. We can have fun sharing ideas on how to incorporate these Web 2.0 tools into our courses. Enjoy the ride!

Dorothy Minor

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lee.anne.morris@tulsacc.edu  - Thanks, Lee Anne