Monday, December 18, 2006

Vyew & Skype

Wow! Pat Aroune is using Vyew & Skype together with his kids in New York:
"I have mentioned in previous posts that exposure to the sheer volume of technology can often be overwhelming. Whether it is blogs, wikis, or podcasts, there exists almost unlimited instructional potential these technologies present, and I struggle to create some order to it all. Furthermore, I am not even sure if these technologies are accomplishing my intended goals. Lately, I began to realize that while I was worried about created an online read/write platform, my class was developing a collaborative community right under my nose.About one month ago, I asked five students to participate in an online experiment utilizing Skype and an online interactive whiteboard called Vyew . Vyew is a free, always on collaboration and web conferencing site that allows individuals real-time desktop sharing and capturing. I met with this small group of students, and we began what was essentially on online tutoring session for an upcoming essay. We did nothing that had not been done during the course of a classroom session, except we were all in our individual homes, and it was 8:30 p.m.. I began to sense, over the course of that hour long session, a wave of energy and enthusiasm from the participants. One month later, this concept of online collaboration has taken on a life of is own. Just last night, twenty sophomores from my A.P. European History classes, met online and did a Skype - Vyew session in preparation for an essay exam today. The remarkable thing is, I was not even a part of it. Individual initiative got last night's conference off the ground. More power to the students!"

Now I'm wondering how I could use this with my Grade 8 Math classes!

Monday, December 4, 2006

How are our students searching?

Google seems to be the most popular search engine going these days. I daresay that if you ask any of our students where they go to find information, they would say Google. I also watch time and time again students click on the first entry that comes up after a search, thinking it is the most relevant. What many people don't know is that Google's search technology operates on popularity, on how many people "link" to that particular page. So in other words, the sites move up and down the list according to how many links are coming in to the site. Order of the results often has little to do with relevance. (formerly also known as or, on the other hand, works the opposite way. Relevance and popularity are based on how many links are going out of each site. It is based on subject-specific popularity and in most cases will give the more relevant results first.

Students just need to know that Google is not the only game in town and that there are other options. For more information check out this article in eSchool News Online.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Smartboard Podcasts

As per my usual Monday morning routine, I listened to the Smartboard Podcast during my commute to work. Joan and Ben are always fun to listen to and have some great links each week. One in particular this morning was for Vyew. It's a browser-based online collaboration tool that has whiteboard capabilities, realtime sharing of desktops (it seemed just a bit slow, which would be expected), built-in text chatting and teleconferencing. Might be a great tool for the students but one downfall was that it requires Flash 9 and since it is not installed on my lab computers I will need to get a technician to install. Ugh!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Things are Changin'

I think back to the mindset I had when I first started my teaching career a decade and a half ago. It's so cool to see the transformation that has occurred both within me and the students I am teaching now. For me, the transition from being primarily a math and science teacher to my current position as a specialist in technology integration has been a HUGE step. It has also been most welcome. I see my kids in a different way now. The kids today don't just look different, they ARE different. Their lives are so infused with technology that they think and process differently today than just ten years ago. We have to speak their language to effectively reach them. I move along my 'techtrek' I will continue to ask myself - and my colleagues - not whether technology can be used, but how it can be used.