Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hot N’Cold - Wet N’Dry - Final Post

Just a little over fifteen months ago, my husband and I packed our bags and jetted off from Kingston, Jamaica to Alberta, Canada. The experience has been quite like a roller-coaster ride since I landed here, hence, the title of my post. I left from a hot and wet climate to a cold and dry one. I heard that Alberta was cold and I thought I knew what cold was, but when I came to Alberta I learnt how cold ‘cold’ could be. Jamaica is quite humid and naturally resulting in one’s ability to sweat. As a matter of fact, I thought it was humanly impossible to go without sweating couple of weeks, until I realized that nearly twelve months I never had a drop of sweat.

I started searching for the hot n’ cold on the internet and I found this song on Youtube by Katy Perry (my apologies for one inappropriate line, there was no code to embed another version that was edited). I listened to the song and when I heard the chorus, I thought, “this sounds like the relationship I have had with Alberta”. If Alberta was a guy and I was his girl, we would constantly be playing this song to each other as it would be the theme of our relationship. I have decided to draw on some fitting themes from this experience, as I parallel my stories with my reflections on this course.

1. Hot N’ Cold – Highlights and lowlights of my learning

As Albertans already know, the weather here can change in a heartbeat. Today it’s hot, tomorrow it’s cold, at 10am it’s hot at 2pm it’s cold. This constant dynamics in weather was a new phenomenon for me, since I never experienced it or heard about it, I never thought about it. But now that I am living in it, I have learnt to adjust and dress for it – I walk with a jacket, a pair of gloves and a scarf, pretty much all year round, just in case I need it.

The course EDES501 was new to me in two main ways. It was the first course that I had taken with TL Department and it was the first totally online course that I had done. Well I was excited to begin the course, as I really wanted to know about these technologies and how they could be used in the classroom; a friend of mine had signed up to take this course too, and I had read the 1st Edition of Richardson’s Blog, Wikis and Podcasts text and thought, ‘whoa these web tools are awesome’.

This euphoric feeling was temporal, as my friend had to withdraw from the course and I soon started feeling isolated, as I knew no one, and I wasn’t a TL, and there was no one else from my department that was enrolled in the course. For me, it was rough doing a course totally online and asynchronous. May be because I am less of verbal linguistic learner it was a challenge for me to negotiate the virtual classroom that I was in. But, what else could I do? A friend of mine said, ‘just withdraw from the course’, I responded, ‘I will not quit, I must be able to adjust’, and that’s what I started doing. I didn’t post as frequent as I would talk in an actual classroom; instead I read a whole lot more than I would. In a short space of time I was forced to start dressing for the EDES501’s ‘virtual weather’.

As I mentioned in my last post, it was sheer pleasure for me to not only do the introductory blog, but to create my very first blog. After whetting my appetite with personalizing my blog, signing up for Twitter (which I really had some apprehensions of) and setting up an RSS feed, a cold wave swept over me when I saw my first grade. But then, I was consoled when Joanne told us our blogs would start getting better once we got comfortable and began to find our style. My grades are telling me that my blogosphere voice still needs a lot of work. But, I am licking my wounds, as I reflect on 3 particular suggestions that I learnt from TechMiso’s blog:

1) It is normal for a new bloggers voice to sound bland, robotic or even voiceless – I’m still fairly new at it, so my feelings are quite natural. It is also important that we share these with our students and colleagues when they embark on using Web2.0 technologies. Even though I may be considered an ‘expert’ with technology in my circle of colleagues, it’s great when I can share my ‘slip-ups’ or ‘apprehensions’ about these tools. As I would constantly say to the persons I train, don’t be afraid to explore the software, messing up the first time does not mean you’re doomed for life.
2) Practice makes perfect: the more you write the more your voice will begin to naturally appear Рthis clich̩ has stood the test of time, if I intend to do well I have to spend valuable time, learning the ins and outs of the tools.
3) Listen to the criticism, both the good and bad from friends and family because it will be an invaluable resource to your ultimate goal. – Of course this is a tough pill to swallow, who wants to hear especially bad criticisms. Our ego seems to get the better of us sometimes. But then how else can we grow if we are too conceited to value someone else’s opinion?

Ok, to my final highlight and lowlight of the course. Highlight – the exploration of some awesome tools, video-sharing, photo-sharing and social bookmarking were the most exciting for me. Lowlight – not enough time to process all the information that came my way.

Thinking about it now, it seems our discussion questions were deliberately set to address the possible lowlights of our journey. There were at least two questions which spoke to information-overload and the techniques we used to manage such issues. The practical suggestions from my group members really helped to deal with that lowlight. We had spoken at length about being focused, but Dawn’s statement to “stay focussed on the intended goal of each lesson, and the grades will take care of themselves” really gave me some food for thought, I honestly stopped caring about the grades and shifted my focus to learning about the tool and how they impact teaching and learning. While I failed miserably after two days of following Annabelle’s strategy of keeping one window open and a limited number of tabs, I picked up my graduate handbook and started writing my to-do lists as Renae had mentioned she had done. I wrote down all due dates for all the assignments that I had to do between those times. It really helps to have to-do list to be reminded of all that needs to be done both in the physical and virtual world and it gives so much more satisfaction to have those items checked as completed.

2. The more you know, the more you realize that you don’t know –Where do I go from here in terms of learning about technologies and integrating them into my classroom

In doing my Master’s program, I have come to realize that the more I learn, the more I realize there are lots more to learn. Whether it’s the nature of a Master’s program or it is the place at which I am currently pursuing the program, I am unsure; arguably, it could be a little of both. There are so many assumptions and social values that I have come to question now that I am doing this program. One that stands out in my mind most is the reason why we get an education. It may be due to fact that I have spent most of my life in a developing country, but the main reason why we have been encouraged to get an education is to improve our social status, get good jobs and contribute to or sustain the economic viability of our country. Now that I am in a country that promotes education for social justice, transformation and environmental sustainability, I am left at a crossroads in my life.

Davies and Merchant (2009) suggest that we need to think of “Web2.0 as a text to study, to explore and to think critically about” (p. 104). Integration of technologies in my practice now has a more loaded meaning as I also have to consider ways in which technology can be taught with a focus on social justice. I have to think about the transformative potential that its use can have on students. I have to be conscious of using technology in a more eco-friendly manner. As Richardson(2009) states “learning in this environment is about being able to construct, develop, sustain, and participate in global networks” (p. 8).

More than just integrating these technologies in my classroom, I am thinking about the integration of these technologies in institutions of higher education across Jamaica. In coming to the realization that the pedagogical experiences here are different from those in Jamaica and in seeing the need to share in the growth of my fellow Jamaicans, I have focused my research at the university that I last worked there. For my master’s thesis I will be researching the challenges encountered by educators at the university, who are facilitating technology-mediated learning. Technology-mediated learning is already being used, but not to the extent of institutions of North America. However, in working within the confines and socio-cultural realities of Jamaica, and in exploring and mediating the challenges that educators face, we can in effect harness the power of available Web2.0 technologies.

I definitely intend to continue my professional development in using Web2.0 technologies, particularly social networks. Previously I had joined AACE and EDUCAUSE, but I depended on just getting emails on what was happening. Now in getting their RSS feeds, I am taking less of a laid back approach to fostering my professional needs. I have also recognized the significance of forging professional networks. Even in doing research, it’s just a matter of requesting papers and prior research from experts in the field who are a part of the network that you are a part of. The common threads which bind members of these organizations are education and technology. These are my two passions and in order to determine the depth and breadth of potential, I need to be informed of like happenings. Even though I will not be able to keep abreast of all the changes that are happening in the world of technology I can chose to engage in the ones that are more applicable to my situation.

3a. Sunshine does not equate to hot - Consider what tool(s) you will want to share with your colleagues in schools and/or libraries.

When I was researching where to do my studies in Canada, I remember checking out Alberta on the web and seeing a quote which spoke of this province being one of Canada’s sunniest. So I thought, surely, if it is one of the sunniest provinces then maybe it was not that cold after all. I have come to witness sunny days at -30C, which were anything but hot. Now when I tell my friends from back home that I am cold and they tell me they will send some sunshine for me, I tell them I don’t need the sunshine as I already have it, instead what I need is some heat/warm air.

Not every tool that I have explored this term can be easily incorporated in the classroom. By extension, some tools are more applicable to K-12 learners than adult learners and vice versa. According to Kop (2008) "over the past decades technological change has instigated a debate about the future of adult education. A dichotomy has appeared between the position of adult educators and that of learning technologists on the need for and nature of change under the influence of technology." It is time that the dichotomous relationship change to a more dialogic one. Adult educators need to be communicating with learning technologists in order for the field to exploit the tools that are most appropriate for adult learners. Social bookmarking, RSS’s, podcasting, wikis and social networking sites are tools that I have already and will continue to share with my colleagues. Some instructors are exploring the possibility of incorporating the use Facebook in their classrooms, but maybe an awareness of social networking sites such as Ning and how it works may cause them to reconsider. The creation of their own social network may be a way to harness the potentials of a Facebook page, while not detracting from the subject at hand.

3b. Reflect on why this tool would be beneficial for other teachers and librarians to learn about.

I think these tools would be beneficial because of the nature of them. They are less intimidating or intrusive in nature when used pedagogically. They also have great professional development potential. With the exception of podcasting, all the other tools are simple to use and foster a collaborative environment as they usually involve the effort of a group of persons with shared goals or interests. Lamb(2004) speaks of the readily adaptable nature instructors will have to these tools owing to their cost-effectiveness and knowledge management feature.

Although podcasts mainly feature a do-it-yourself approach, instructors who are confident with how they sound, may find it easy to just record lectures and have someone edit it. Since podcasts also mimics the traditional didactic instructional method of teaching, some instructors may be interested in using this tool. Also, as Roy and Roy (2007) note, using podcasts enhance the adult education environment as it:
1. Facilitates self-paced learning and allows a restructuring of the use of class-time
2. Allows for the remediation of adults who may be slow learners
3. Learners can listen and multi-task

4. You can live in communities and not be a part of the community - Highlight a couple of the key things you learned from others in the class.

The final parallel that I wish to draw from my experience living in Alberta is on the concept of communities. Back home it is quite normal for persons living within a community to know all other community members by name or even by face. Common courtesies are usually exchanged on a daily basis and the failure of children and youths to extend these courtesies to adults would be deemed as disrespectful. In speaking to individuals who were raised in small towns in Alberta, I get the feeling that they too lived in a interactive communal setting. Things are so different here in Edmonton. I live in an apartment and have never spoken to some of my neighbours. Others I may recognize by face, only three I can recognize by name. It’s such a strange feeling to say ‘hi’ or ‘good-morning’ to persons and be completed ignored by them. I have moved to a very individualistic society and that leaves me longing for home at times. I sill marvel at how much persons yearn to be a part of social networks and can be so open and casual to meeting total strangers online, yet so seemingly callous to persons in their physical environment.

It’s a similar feeling doing classes totally online; while I can recognize some persons by their writing it is highly unlikely that I would be able to recognize persons from this class if I saw them in the mall or on campus. My classmates and I are joined by our experiences in the virtual classroom of EDES501. It sometimes felt awkward for me to exchange pleasantries with my classmates, so I mostly dialogued on course related matters or just read the other conversations that others were having. I have learnt some key things from my classmates especially from our discussions where we asked questions and challenged each other to think outside the box. Some key points that I learnt from my classmates were:
• The blogs that we have created serve as a starting point and a place for us to share new learning and reflections.
• Becoming efficient blogging navigators will also have broader implications for students as they move about the digital world outside of the educational setting.
• We are required to address the ethical and intellectual property rights issues with students as they have been magnified with the Web2.0 technologies.
• Injecting humour in our blogs is a way of extending ourselves and sharing our different selves.
• Exercising and keeping to-do lists are practical ways of managing information overload
• We need to equip students with digital literacy skills that will enable them to negotiate the virtual learning environments
• Building student’s confidence will help them to find their own voice when they begin blogging.

5. Reflect on the whole process - from day 1 to the end of the class

Based on how I chose to do this blog, I think I have already done a holistic reflection on my experience in this course. Overall, it was a tough course for me, as I already shared with Joanne it was physically and mentally exhausting based on the quantity of it. I have just completed my last set of courses and considering I opted to do this course just for the experience of asynchronous learning and getting the feel of Web2.0 technologies, the grades I got (which were the lowest) was the hardest pill to swallow. That still does not detract from the invaluable experiences that I had. If I were to do it again, I would not take this course with a full load, as it is very demanding.

For the most part my interactions with classmates were limited to my group members, it would have been great to hear and engage in what the other group had to say on the discussions. Twitter presented the greatest challenge for me as it embodied information overload which I was unable to adequately sift and focus my energies on. Podcasting was the most intimidating; I cringed at the sound of my voice, even though I enjoyed creating the podcast. Video-sharing and photo-sharing seemed to have unearthed my hidden photographic skills; I took pleasure in doing them. For further research, voice-thread is at the top of my list. I didn’t do as much I wanted to with it, but I loved the whole interaction process that this tool offers. Learners can construct knowledge and deliberate on topical issues using their own learning preference.

Finally, I am beginning to hear my blogging voice, it still has a way to go and my level of blogging still needs to rise to the level of complex, but I can say they both have developed with practice. It was a hard course, but it is so easy for me to now say ‘I’m finished’. Similarly, it has been a hectic Master’s programme but I will soon be handing in my thesis and doing the happy dance. I consider EDES501 as just another chapter in my book of hot n’ cold of being in Alberta and remember that ‘when life gave me lemons, I chose to make lemonade’.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Blogs, Blogging for PD and RSS

1. Reflections on the process of learning about the tool

In the early part of the course we were told to set up an RSS feed using Google Reader or Bloglines and then subscribe to a minimum of ten blogs. Being more familiar with Google at the time, I just typed Google Reader in the search field and googled it. I was saved the time of creating an account as I could use my Google account to access Google Reader..gggreat!!! While I had often heard the term RSS and seen it on numerous website, I did not know what the term meant, neither was I clear on how it worked. Prior to setting up the RSS feed, I was of the opinion that only ‘audio feeds’ could be downloaded. Maybe it was because of the ‘sound waves’ looking icon that is used to indicate that a RSS feed is available. It was after I started subscribing to blogs and seeing the feed in my Reader account that I said to myself ‘ok, a feed can be picked up as text too’. It was like moving to online banking, where you were spared the time of opening each bank statement that came for your different accounts and cross-referencing the paper files. All the blogs that you subscribed to were right before you, it only required you to scan the feeds, choose what was you were interested in and focus your time on the information that mattered most.

Blogs and Blogging – I must say I had quite a distant relationship with many of these tools before I started this course. Firstly, I had never created a blog and even though it was not a daunting experience it was a pretty enlightening one. Well, I decided to use Blogger to create a blog account, but I really don’t remember why; I had commented on blogs in Wordpress, so now that I think about it, it is interesting why I didn’t go straight there to create my blog. Maybe it was because Blogger was the first site that came up when I googled blogs. I had fun creating my blog. The evening that I started it, I think I spent the greater part of the evening deciding which picture to post, what to write about myself, what was the look and feel that I was most comfortable with and all the frills associated with creating it. I remember dragging myself from my computer and saying, “remember this will not be marked and you have at least another week to finish it”, then spending a few more hours before turning in long past midnight. It was a great feeling of accomplishment when I finished it, I hate how I sounded :( , but I loved how the blog looked :) .

Secondly, I had blogged before, but Richardson would mostly call it ‘simple blogging’, though I did move along the spectrum sometimes, I’m sure it never made it to ‘complex blogging’. But then again, would the act of just responding to comments and questions on a blog be considered blogging? I think there should be a different name for it (if there isn’t) so that we can differentiate between the two activities.
Have you ever heard a conversation where Person X said: Y, you have not emailed me in the longest while and Person Y responds: Of course I have, up to last week I sent you two emails; then Person X responds: Y, those weren’t emails, those were just ‘forwards’. That’s the kind of feeling I get when trying to say what I used to do, before I started this course, I was just sending ‘forwards’ not ‘emails’. While forwards are emails, it is assumed that the person sending an email (that is not a forward) invests some thoughtful time and effort into creating it before hitting the ‘Send’ button. Now that I had started blogging and not posting comments, I started dreading the sound of my blogging voice. When I read my first blog that I posted, it was like hearing my voice on an audio tape for the first time and saying ‘that’s not how I sound to me’.

2. Discussion of the tool in terms of my own personal learning

Blogs, Blogging for PD and RSS
My personal learning about these tools has certainly changed over the past 3 months. Only time will tell if I will keep my blog alive or revamp it and change the look, feel and content. It’s has been a valuable experience and though I may not continue it in the realm of a U of A student, it may just morph into a blog for personal and professional interest. I must say, it was somewhat intimidating when I began to write these blog posts, but I have learnt to take bigger steps as the course progressed. As an individual, I will be more conscious of my comments that I post on other blogs, shifting away from the all too spontaneous and shallow responses that I am used to making.
Blogging for PD - the thought just instantly makes me feel small. Will individuals value what I have said? Will they think of me differently? How will I know the kind of value that I have added to the profession? I guess it’s just the feeling of uncertainty that has caused all these questions to be buzzing in my head. Right now I am at a crossroad in my life, thinking of changing professions, but then thinking, is that really what I want to change my profession to? How much will I be able to contribute to a field which I am new to? For now, I will continue reading blogs for PD and posting questions and comments, but blogging for PD – that is not in my books just yet.

RSS – A former co-worker of mine always used the quote “work smarter, not harder” and I always used to tease him that he was just lazy. But I soon learnt the merits of that saying when I became a member of a project team within the company. Real Simple Syndication mirrors that quote. There is a lot of information to wade through and it would surely be harder if I were to log on each of the blogs that I had subscribed to and to wade through the sometimes waist high content that is posted. Unlike some of the tools that we explored in this course where there were varied values based on whether I used it a student or individual, RSS strikes me as having one main value and this value extends to every sphere of my life. I am away from home, but the RSS feeds from the Jamaican newspapers keeps me posted on what is happening. As a student, as an individual, as a social person, as a professional thinking of changing professions, as a religious person - I can subscribe to all the different feeds that peaks my interest and group them accordingly. I can then choose to tag, bookmark, and share or email what I find interesting with others of like passions.

3. Discussion of the tool in terms of teaching and learning
At a distance learning conference, entitled the “World is Open”, the keynote speaker, Curtis Bonk presented a WE-ALL-CAN-Learn model, and argued that “emerging technologies have expanded educational opportunities for learners, and have been ‘opening up the world of learning’ for any learner at any time desired” (as cited in Anzai, 2009, p. 454). Emerging technologies have proven to be a force to reckon with, within the classroom. Learners are noticeable more accepting to these new technologies, while teachers and administrators lag behind. The differences in responses are usually based on comfort level, access to resource and willingness to change.

Can access to resources and one’s comfort level affect their willingness to change?

“Blogs have become commonplace on the Internet, but in higher education -- where methods of publishing scholarship and teaching students typically change at a glacial pace they are still considered experimental. Even though academic blogs exist, most scholars who do not have their own blogs doubt the value of this newfangled computer tool, or wonder what point it serves” (Krause, 2005).

Although Krause highlighted this point nearly five years ago, little has changed with respect to the use of blogs, wikis and RSS feeds in higher education, especially in Education faculties. With the exception of Teacher Librarian and Instructional/Educational Technology programmes that run in Education faculties, majority of the other programmes are hardly teaching with any technology, save overhead projectors, email and Powerpoint slides. Releasing the ‘reins’ of the classroom and assuming a more facilitative approach is seemingly the thrust of Web2.0 technologies.

According to Godwin-Jones (2003)“Language professionals have embraced the world of collaborative opportunities the Internet has introduced. Many tools--e-mail, discussion forums, chat--are by now familiar to many language teachers. Recent innovations--blogs, wikis, and RSS feeds--may be less familiar but offer powerful opportunities for online collaboration for both language professionals and learners.” Notwithstanding the powerful opportunities that blogs and RSS feeds offer for online collaboration, many educators are not yet comfortable with moving from Web1.0 to Web2.0 technologies.

In speaking to some educators about their use(lack thereof) of these Web2.0 technologies, they speak of the horror stories they have heard, the few hitches that they have had when trying to use it themselves, the network failures that have experienced and the apprehension of their ‘teaching presence’ being removed.

The questions that I struggle with, are: What can we do differently in order to have teachers embrace these new technologies? How can we show teachers that their ability to use the technology within the classroom will not eventually render their role as obsolete? What institutional policies are possibly reproducing tensions?

Fender (2001) suggests
• Faculty should be encouraged to participate in delivering courses using the new technologies
• Faculty need to be sufficiently trained so that they have the same comfort level with this method of instruction as they do with more familiar, traditional classroom instruction methods.
• Technical and instructional support personnel need to be readily available to work with the faculty and to support course development.
• Recognition of faculty members’ efforts by the university administration in their promotion and tenure decisions as well as in administrative decision regarding faculty financial rewards, release time, and honor systems.

Beaudoin (1990) posits these practical suggestions:
• exposing faculty, who are accustomed to working alone, to collobarative teaching arrangements
• involving faculty, as their expertise increases, in previewing, purchasing, and evaluating materials appropriate to the instructional technology available to them
• engaging faculty in pilot projects to test alternative delivery systems
• establishing an academic computing services team or advisory board across departmental lines to keep information and training current.

Can access to resources and one’s comfort level affect their willingness to change? It definitely can. As with other Web2.0 technologies, Blogs and RSS are revolutionary in the classroom, but until the teachers have been provided with the stimulus to spur their interactions with these tools, the far reaching potentials, will not be fully realized.


Beaudoin, M. (1990). The instructor's changing role in distance education. The American Journal of Distance Education, 4(2).

Fender, D.L. (2001). Student and faculty issues in distance education. Mid-South Instructional Technology Conference. Retrieved from

Godwin-Jones, R. (2003). Emerging Technologies: Blogs and Wikis Environments for On-Line Collaboration. Language, Learning & Technology, 7.

Krause, S. D. (2005). Blogs as a Tool for teaching. Retrieved from

Milton Ramirez , Using RSS in the Classroom. Retrieved from

Williams, J. & Jacobs, J. (2004). Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology. 20(2), 232-247.

Monday, November 23, 2009


1. Reflections on the process of learning about the tool
I had questions about Twitter from the get go, questions and preconceptions that kept me at the sidelines observing the conversation but never really intrigued me to give it a try. It was pretty easy to create a Twitter account and I figured out how tweeting worked, considering that prior to this I had not even browsed the Twitter homepage. However it was good that we had some suggested persons to follow as the suggestion list was rather confusing. Anyway, after I signed up for Twitter I recognized l had a follower, just minutes after signing up. I must admit I was excited about my first follower until I clicked on my her only to find out she was sending a link to a porn site. Aawwh, as if I wasn't skeptic enough. Needless to say, I blocked my first follower. Being a new user of Twitter, I really expected to see the 'how to' and 'why to' of the application, but this was lacking – I had to depend on the 'trailfire on twitter' to have these questions answered.

2. Discussion of the tool in terms of my own personal learning
As an individual I have followed a small number of persons on twitter and to date I have written only one tweet. Some persons may argue that that really isn`t tweeting, in countering that argument, I would say that every journey begins with the first step. I had two other followers who I assumed surmised I wasn’t worth following and stopped along the way.

While I would have liked to taken more steps in tweeting, I don't think I commanded an audience based on who I was following. I added persons based on the course requirements, then when I tried finding my friends only two persons from my Yahoo friend list had a twitter account. Those friends have posted a combined total of four tweets since I started following them and one seemed to be a spam posting. Maybe it’s due to fact that most of my friends are from Jamaica and Twitter hasn’t quite made an impression on them as much as Hi5 or Facebook. While I can see myself sending tweets to my friends from Twitter - updating them on what is happening at any given time, I would have a hard task to get them from the Facebook to the Twitter mode.

Additionally, as I had mentioned from the start of the course, I am really not enthused by constantly saying 'where I am' or 'what I'm doing' or 'what is happening' and Twitter thrives on the prolific posting of tweets. It just feels like a narcissistic behavior especially if I have nothing worthwhile posting. When I find myself sending text messages it is to ask a question or say something, not just texting for texting sake.

Not because Twitter, doesn’t quite work for me, it won’t work for someone else. I see some advantages of having Twitter if persons are interested in getting breaking news or learning about new technologies as they become available or keeping abreast of the changes within their profession. That kind of information can be valuable and I guess it all comes down to the needs which different individuals have at different points in their lives. If I was still working as a programmer analyst, I am quite sure I would be on Twitter now, getting all the updates on software as they become available and sharing in the knowledge transfer in such environments.

As a student I see how twitter can make my life less difficult and more difficult at the same time. It is important that we get good directions when launching out with such tools, and if it were just left up to me to find persons with relevant experience and insight on Web2.0 tools on Twitter, I would have failed miserable. The recommended list of persons who we were to follow, steered me into the direction of qualified and reputable individuals, but then came the hard part. It got increasingly taxing when I tried to following all the conversations, catching up with what I had missed and clicking on all the recommended links. Then a classmate of ours suggested we used TweetDeck, which I began using to get both Twitter and Facebook updates. Even though I had to sift through the information it was not as daunting since both sites were somewhat synchronized to give me feeds. TweetDeck then started giving me an error that no data was available and then the `taxing` began again.
So, I have learnt how to use Twitter, but I am yet to become the `twitizen` or `twitterholic` that I know some persons have already become.

3. Discussion of the tool in terms of teaching and learning

Putting aside my skepticism of Twitter, there are ways in which it can and has been used in the classroom. Williams, the CEO and co-founder of Twitter states "what we have to do is deliver to people the best and freshest most relevant information possible. We think of Twitter as it's not a social network, but it's an information network. It tells people what they care about as it is happening in the world." (O'Reilly Media, 2009)

Richardson(2009) speaks of Paul Allison's site called, where students post information in a regulated site. Dunlap and Lowenthal (2009) did a survey and concluded that Twitter does enhance social presence in an online environment. They further noted the following as instructional benefits of Twitter: connecting a professional community of practice, maintaining relationships (even after a course), addressing student issues in a timely manner, supporting informal learning, writing concisely, writing for an audience. College at Home provides insights on how libraries can use Twitter to engage students in question and answer sessions, update patrons on new materials, share references and to share alerts about requested material to just name a few. Male (2009) highlights the wealth of information that is shared every second on Twitter, the ease with which users can make connections and its reputation for being the best source for breaking news.

Lavelle (2007) speaks of the mixed emotions that Twitter elicits; while some persons are excited that the service allows them to keep in touch with friends, others wrestle with checking messages at odd hours of the night, paying high cell-phone bills and being bombarded with too much information from others. Grosseck and Holotescu argue "Twitter can be time-consuming, addictive, and possibly even encourage bad grammar as a result of its 140-character limit"(as cited in Dunlap & Loweenthal, 2009).

The truth of the matter is, as with all tools, there are pros and cons associated with their use, particularly in an educational environment. As teachers, our learners, the subject matter and the environment in which we teach will ultimately decide how effective Twitter can be in classroom instruction. Each educator will have to answer the questions
How can Twitter be used in my classroom?
Will it extend my learners ability to assess, analyse and synthesize what they have learnt?
Can Twitter improve my practice as a teacher?
Is it appropriate for the present context in which my learners and I are at?

According to Miller (2009) Twitter has defied the traditional model as adults, and not teens have driven he growth with this technology. While I think adult learners would be more thoughtful of what they tweeted and when they tweeted if Twitter was introduced in an adult education program and that they would take advantage of the networking capabilities of the tool, I would only be able to introduce it in this North American setting (my present reality). However if I were to turn my gaze to Jamaicans and their reality, Twitter may prove to be quite costly. While the mobile market there has made great leaps, many individuals 'pay as they go' since they cannot afford the plans that the cell-phone providers make available. Evan Williams also spoke of their recent partnership with India's largest mobile provider to offer free Twitter SMS to the company's 110 million customers and the increase in users based on this. If this became the reality for Jamaica, there is no telling how far reaching its impact would be particularly in the field of adult education. To tweet or not to tweet? It just depends on what works for you at any given time.


Dunlap, J. C. & Lowenthal, P. R. (2009). Tweeting the night away: Using Twitter to enhance social presence. Journal of Information Systems Education, 20(2). Retrieved from
Lavallee, A. (2007, March) “Friends Swap Twitters, and Frustration: New Real-time Messaging Services Overwhelm Some Users with Mundane Updates From Friends.” Retrieved from

Male, M. D. (2009). Twitter 101. Retrieved from

Miller, C. M. (2009). Who’s Driving Twitter’s Popularity? Not Teens. Retrieved from - Twitter: Use it Productively

Web 2.0 Summit 2009: Evan Williams and John Battelle "A Conversation with Evan Williams", O'Reilly Media, October 21, 2009,,

Monday, November 16, 2009

Social Networking Sites Blog

1. Reflections on the process of learning about the tool
I created an account on Facebook prior to starting this course. The process was pretty straight forward, I was invited by a friend (or many friends) of mine to join Facebook. I entered all my account information and started uploading my pictures and tried to get a feel of the network. This is usually the best part from me, personalizing my page. Even though I was reluctant to move from Hi5 (which I’m still a member of) to Facebook, I looked forward to personalizing my page. I was disappointed as my Facebook page did not allow me to change my colors and background and give my page a little flair. I soon got over it though - at times you just accept the things you cannot change.

I wondered to myself which Ning I would join since my particular interest was not in TL. So I googled ‘Jamaica Ning’ and the list came up with Jamaican Diaspora Ning. I went straight to join that network as I was always hearing about the Jamaican Diaspora while I lived in Jamaica. At first I was able to view the different blogs and pictures and posts made by members on the page, but I did not have access to a homepage. I then signed up and was quite surprised when I got a message that they would inform me if I qualified to be a member. I don’t know what kind of checks they did (if any) but the next day I got an email that informed me I was approved as a member. I logged in with my username and password and uploaded my profile picture. I had now become a member of the Jamaican Diaspora Ning.

2. Discussion of the tool in terms of my own personal learning
Ning and Facebook (FB) offer slightly different things for me as a person, subsequently I do things differently on these sites.

FB is more of a personal space for me and I use it differently from Ning. For one, I only have my friends on FB. I don’t invite people that I don’t know to be a part of my network of friends, neither do I invite my friends’ friends that I know but do not consider my friends. I have connected and reconnected with friends from church, high school, college and university – and of course I have some family members there too. My high school classmates are currently planning a reunion online. FB gives me the feeling of nostalgia and family and that’s one of my main motivations for having an account. With Ning, I am in a network of mostly strangers, except from a few of my friends that I invited to join after I became a member. The relationship factor is different in Ning, while we (users) may not be friends we share a commonality of being Jamaicans united “worldwide for our common good.” Persons upload pictures of events that take place in Jamaica and that is what peaks my interest, being current with what is taking place at home.

My posts on FB tend to be more of a personal nature. I find out how my friends are doing or wish them happy birthday and at times engage them in a live chat. I hardly ever update ‘What’s on your mind’. Frankly, I don’t have the time to be speaking constantly about my frame of mind or say what I am currently doing - it is just too much of a time consuming activity. When you post, then most times you end up in a dialogue with your friends commenting or asking questions and you need to be courteous enough to respond. With so much work on my ‘plate’ now, most times I am just a lurker when I log on to FB. In the holidays I will engage more, just not now. Even though I am not on as frequent as I would like to be, most of my friends understand that I have not deserted them, it’s just that my focus is elsewhere now.

I am yet to post a comment or write a blog on Ning. Firstly, it’s because I am fairly new to the group. I originally thought I just needed to be a part of 2 social networks, I didn’t know that one had to specifically be a Ning, so I recently joined. Secondly, I have a feeling that whatever I post will be scrutinized by people that I don’t know. Thirdly, because the nature of the network is more formal than informal, so I prefer to read for now until I have something valuable to add. The thing I enjoy the most about the Ning that I am apart of is BlogTalkRadio. There are different feature topics and persons who are interviewed engage in dialogue with the hosts- there is something about hearing your own accent that gives me that ‘at home’ feeling.

Although FB has the functionality of creating fan pages, Ning provides the avenue for persons and groups to unite around a common theme. Even though only my friends are in FB we have varied interests, interests that are maybe best captured on a network like Ning. As a graduate student or a professional, I would prefer to create a Ning, I think it would be easier to disband a Ning, if intended to use it in a committee fashion, or it would be easier to leave a Ning, if your profession changed and you were moving to another network. I don’t like the idea of putting people on your FB friend list only to remove them shortly after.

3. Discussion of the tool in terms of teaching and learning
The use of SNS continues to generate much discussion in the educational sector (Saunders, 2008). While some teachers are thinking of ways in which they could enhance the teaching learning environment, others comment on the distracting and distasteful flavour that it could have leave within the classroom. These are just some of the considerations of SNSs where teaching and learning is concerned.

Psychosocial benefits – “Tynes(2007) highlights the psychosocial benefits of SNS, these benefits includes the provision of social cognitive skills such as perspectives taking, social support, autonomy and intimacy and the facilitation of identity exploration. Students are able to develop certain communication skills as they interact with their friends and other students. While younger students may seek to explore their identities, adult learners are more likely to develop and strengthen cognitive skills as they engage in discussion on topical issues and are less intimidated when sharing their views. Griffith and Liyanage (2008) states “the sharing of information amongst groups can have a positive effect...academics are learning more about the students they teach simply by viewing the students profiles on SNS”(p.78).

Networking – Seckor (2005) conducted a case study for the London School of Economics and Political Science where they looked at the use of Facebook amongst librarians. It was noted that while many of the librarians joined FB for social reasons the application can overlap into their professional world when they promote library events. That is just one example as other SNSs are created explicitly for networking opportunities and career enhancements. Until I watched the SNS in plain English videos, I realized I had never really understood the networking aspect of FB and other SNSs. Maybe it is because I have never thought of using FB in the light that they mentioned. As I mentioned earlier in the blog, I use FB to stay in touch with family and friends, but never to forge new personal or professional ties. SNSs are meeting different needs for different kinds of people. I think teachers and adult learners are more likely to take advantage of this functionality of SNSs than would K-12 students. Whatever our motives are, the “forging of new ties” or “networking” seem to be the driving force behind the creation of SNSs.

Joining individuals of similar interest – SNSs bring people of similar interest together. For example, “Facebook users can join groups based on similar interests and can connect with each other through networks of friends.” (Coutts et al., 2007). The learning experience can be greatly enhanced when peers are given the freedom to share with each other in their ‘own’ space. A lot of informal learning takes place in these environments. Students and even teachers can belong to communities that address issues or events that they are passionate about and this can be a means of expanding one’s knowledge on a subject and engaging members in critical thinking.

Converging Selves – SNS can be a place where the different identities of a user merge. This can either work for or against members of the network, depending on the nature of their profession or the grade that they are in. In a study done by Saunders (2008) on pre-service teachers, many of them noted professionalism as an issue for them and ended up removing or editing their Facebook profiles once they became teachers. Saunders (2008) also noted “these teachers lives are in motion; teacher “selves” rub up against their young adult social selves, their sister selves. At the same time these young women’s identities are in flux, in motion between a college student and teacher.” While younger learners are less concerned with what they write on their wall in FB, adult learners/teachers have to be constantly gauging their conversation for their audience as individuals can be held liable for what the comments that they make on SNSs.

Safety issues – for many K-12 educators and administrators, internet safety is a topic of great concern. (Coutts et al., 2007). Information shared between SNS users can vary greatly; information can be collated and data mined for illegitimate use, resulting in students becoming victims of sexual predators or cyber bullying (Griffith & Liyanage, 2008). Safety will continue to be an issue in the Web2.0 world and teachers can share in the responsibility of educating students how to navigate safely within these environments. Appropriate use of discussion boards may be a starting point for teachers to encourage students to be respectful to their classmates when posting comments and responding to questions.

Notwithstanding the numerous benefits of teaching and learning within SNSs, teachers still have to contend with the blocking of popular SNS sites on campus along with the considerations that I mentioned above. While some universities have started using SNSs for improving pedagogy, others are still reviewing the research that has been done on them and are deciding if the challenges outweigh the benefits.

Coutts, J., Dawson, K., Boyer, J. & Ferdig, R. (2007). Will you be my friend? Prospective teachers’ use of Facebook and implications for teacher education. In R. Carlsen et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2007 (pp. 1937-1941). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Griffith, S. & Liyanage, L. (2008). An introduction to the potential of social networking sites in education. Proceedings of the Emerging technologies Conference.

Saunders, S. (2008). The role of social networking sites in teacher education programs: A qualitative exploration. In K. McFerrin et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2008. Chesapeake, VA:AACE.

Seckor, J (2005). Case study 5: Libraries and Facebook. London School of Economics and Political Science. Retrieved from

Tynes, B. (2007). Internet safety gone wild? Sacrificing the educational and psychosocial benefits of online social environments. Journal of Adolescent Research. 22(6). Retrieved from

Monday, October 26, 2009

Multimedia Post

1. Reflections on the process of learning about the tool
It was quite a simple task after I followed the trailfires and then went to visit the Animoto website. I watched some sample videos and then quickly created my user account. Creating the account was just as quick as when I created an account for my WikiRecipes. I had no difficulty navigating the site and following the steps in creating my video. I straightway went to Picasa 3 on my desktop and uploaded some of the pictures I had taken when I went to the Muttart Conservatory this past summer.

It was then time to move to step 2, adding the music. I had a lovely song that I wanted to use as for the background, but, when I got Animoto’s warning as to the copyright issues, I decided to choose from their list that they had available. So, I searched and searched until I found a song that was quite fitting with the theme of the pictures that I had uploaded. It was like searching for a diamond in the rough, but it was worth it. I chose the song Indescribable by Chris Tomlin. I had heard it once before, maybe about three weeks ago when I went to a worship service and I thought what a beautiful song that was describing God’s magnificent creation.

Anyway, after those two short steps, I hit the finalize button and waited a few minutes for the video to be created. The finalize button, did throw me off track though, for, as I watched the sample videos created with Animoto, I thought that the creator of the video (myself in this case) would be the one to choose the animation and slide transition that they wanted shown in the video. Alas, this was not the case; maybe that option is available after purchasing the space to create a full length video, although nothing on the website implies that. A few days have passed and I am still the only viewer of my Animoto video, so I decided to post it to my Facebook account; I am sure many of my friends who have noticed a marked decline in my status updates will be checking out the video even as I write. It was a great experience using Animoto, the two regrets I had were that I couldn’t do a free video that was longer than 30 seconds and that I wasn’t able to do the animation myself.

With regards to Voicethread, I can’t truly speak of the process of learning with the tool, even though I did create an account and explored the whole voicethread experience, it was incomplete. I had difficulties with separating the picture that I wanted to talk about and uploading an image that represented me. I first uploaded the picture of a sunset and talked about the picture for about two minutes, then I realized it was saved as my identity and not for the thread. So, I uploaded a picture of me – my identity, and then uploaded a set of sunset pictures. By this the vocal juices had stopped flowing so I just added a comment to the picture. I sent it to some of my friends, but since they haven’t commented on it, I figure I needed to have sent some explanation along with the thread; or maybe if I had sent the one that I had original voiced over talking about the sunset I would have evoked some response. Till then I am still learning about voicethreads.

2. Discussion of the tool in terms of my own personal learning
Last week I started this discussion by saying "Of all the tools that we have been/will be introduced to in this course, I must say I am most familiar with wiki", this week I could say exploring multi-media has been most fun. While I do remember being informed of Animoto in a presentation, I must say that I am least familiar with the how to of Voicethreads. This week we explored multi-media sharing sites and all the bells and whistles that comes it.

As a student I would be less inclined to use Animoto as I just view it as delivering video and sound, which may not be suited for most of my school presentations. I remember an Animoto video that I viewed this week that was created by a academic conference organizer to give a feel of what the conference would be about. That has just caused me to think on how the future of conferences could be enhanced by Web2.0 technologies. Who knows, maybe five years down the road (or less), posters will be a thing of the past for academic conferences, and electronic boards with one or two minutes "research trailers" will be the norm. Voicethread would be more useful for me as a student. It can allow group members to engage in meaningful discussion on a topic or an issue. The ability to use multiple means of commenting makes Voicethread more inclusive and allows learners the flexibility of communicating in ways they feel most comfortable. In certain instances I would prefer using text to share my comments (as my voice does not sound like I thought it did), but in instances where I would have a lot of information to share with the group, commenting with audio may be the best option.

For sure Animoto comes in quite handy for creating and sharing videos of family and friends. The name Animoto is well suited as it gives some life to still pictures and uses sound to amplify them. I see how Voicethread too would be a great tool for me as an individual. I spoke last week of my high school reunion that is currently in the making with Facebook being the meeting ground. Since recently my classmates have been digging up old photos that we took while in high school and posting these pictures on their profile – which has generated many comments and laughs (lol). I think using Voicethreads to reminisce about some of these photos would be a way of capturing not just the past (our high school memories) but the present (our comments and present identities). I tried but didn’t find a way to embed Voicethreads in Facebook, but if it can work (which I am still researching) that’s the route I will take when I get a hold of my high school pictures after visiting Jamaica next January.

3. Discussion of the tool in terms of teaching and learning
Multimedia, as defined by Wikipedia can either be a noun or an adjective, it “is media and content that uses a combination of different content forms”(Wikipedia, 2009); it is “the seamless digital integration of text, graphics, animation, audio, still images and motion video in a way that provides individual users with high levels of control and interaction. The evolution of Multimedia is a story of the emergence and convergence of these technologies” (Barabash & Kyllo, 2009). Wikipedia’s description of multimedia being a noun or an adjective has caused me to stop and think a while. In education circles multimedia is embraced as an adjective that describes what a student-centered classroom is all about. But then can all multimedia be described as multimedia, and are multimedia created equal? I would place multimedia on a continuum with the two anchors being passive and interactive.

Passive Multimedia
Shank (1994) relates how many educational software programs provide a passive experience for the students, as to a large extent, they mimic what occurs inside the classroom. He describes many of these programs as having a “page-turning architecture or “change channel” capabilities. Students were only required to press buttons (next, back or home) and that was as interactive as it got. Even with all the glitters of these programs the classroom still depicted a non student-centered approach as students would now for a fraction of the time, turn their attention from the teacher at the front of the classroom to the “multimedia” at the front of the classroom.

Since Shanks’ article has been written, great strides have been made in the functionality of educational software. Friedland, Hurst & Knipping (2008) posits “Web2.0 phenomena such as Youtube leads us to suspect that multimedia now will play an even greater significant role” than did earlier 1990s educational web technologies. While the tools of the early 1990s did include text, graphics, audio and animation, they for the most part lacked interactivity, thus prompting Shank’s description of the page-turning and change channel functionality of these programs. Shank(1994) further described “creating educationally effective multimedia programs means taking seriously the idea of learning by doing. Good educational software is active, not passive, and ensures that users are doing, not simply watching”.(p.69). This leads me to the next anchor of the multimedia continuum - interactive multimedia.

Interactive Multimedia
Vaughan (1998) gets to the heart of the matter stating "when you allow an end user -- the viewer of a multimedia project -- to control what and when the elements are delivered, it is interactive multimedia".(as cited in Neo & Neo, n.d., para. 2). When educational software within the classroom allows students to interact with the technology then this interaction will allow students to "learn by doing". That being said, interactive multi-media accommodate a number of learning styles that may be present in any one classroom.

In my opinion, Animoto is closer to the passive end of the continuum while Voicethread is closer to the interactive end. Voicethread allows the student (user) to interact with the technology and not just look, listen and learn. When I saw Alex’s Voicethread on a Halloween story, I immediately thought of how Voicethreads could be used for teaching foreign languages. His story was written in French and even though I could read the French (as I would English) the audio in the thread informed me of how to pronounce the words (which was somewhat different from English). Voicethread provides an avenue for not only formal but informal learning to take place, I didn’t notice there was someone in the window of Alex’s haunted house until someone else mentioned it.

On his website, Thomas Armstrong postulates "the theory of multiple intelligences also has strong implications for adult learning and development. Many adults find themselves in jobs that do not make optimal use of their most highly developed intelligences (for example, the highly bodily-kinesthetic individual who is stuck in a linguistic or logical desk-job when he or she would be much happier in a job where they could move around, such as a recreational leader, a forest ranger, or physical therapist). The theory of multiple intelligences gives adults a whole new way to look at their lives, examining potentials that they left behind in their childhood but now have the opportunity to develop through courses, hobbies, or other programs of self-development". Adult educators usually provide adult learners with more opportunities to express their learning using their preferred intelligences to articulate their thoughts, albeit without digital multimedia as we know it, as the experience of these learners are highly valued. K-12 educators should also provide these highly interactive and multiple learning opportunities for young learners too, as they too enter the classroom with their own experience and their learning preferences.

Barabash, C. & Kyllo, J. The history and development of multimedia: A story of invention, ingenuity and vision. Retrieved from
Friedland, G., Hurst, W. & Knipping, L. (2008). Educational Multimedia. Multimedia, IEEE ,15 (3). pp.54-56. Retrieved from

Golshani, F. (2008). The All-in-One Box. Multimedia, IEEE , 15(3). pp.1-1. Retrieved from

Neo, M. & Neo, T.K. Innovative teaching:Integrating multimedia into the classroom in a problem-based learning (PBL) environment. Multimedia University,Malaysia. Retrieved from

Schank, R.C. (1994). "Active learning through multimedia," Multimedia, IEEE. 1(1). pp.69-78.Retrieved from

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wiki Blog

1. Reflections on the process of learning about the tool
When I did a course last winter called Learning and Teaching with Technology(EDPY597), one of the assignments required that we created a class wiki and updated it as we went through the process of using SecondLife as a teaching/learning tool. One of my classmates created a wiki via wikispaces and invited us to join – which most of us did; however, that wiki went no further than the first comment, as some of the students dropped the course while others opted to audit it, leaving just two of us signed up for the course. Our instructor then allowed both of us left in the course to choose a more appropriate tool and we opted for Google Docs. That was as close as I came to authoring/editing a wiki.

After I searched the Internet for some existing wikis and viewed some of the content. I decided that I would not create a wiki but instead join one of the wikis and author/edit content. I was too intimidated to even think about Wikipedia so I passed right on to Wiki Recipes at The site was pretty straight forward to use, I just created my username and password and went in. I copied some Jamaican recipes from the web, which I thought to add to the cuisines of the world/Jamaican category. However, I faced two roadblocks.

I think the first resulted in my eagerness to post a recipe, I spent about ten minutes posting the recipe information to the blog and hitting ‘save’ only to get a message which indicated that no content was uploaded. So after I started looking around the page I noticed the button that said “Add a Recipe” (what a dummy!). Well, I was able to add a recipe in a jiffy. But, before I saved it, I recognized the website’s policy on copyright –there appeared the second roadblock. The site stated that its users should “not submit copyrighted work without permission.” Since one of the recipes that I wanted to post was taken from a cookbook and I didn’t request any permission to use it, I decided against using it. Although, I don’t know if it would have been sufficient had I posted the recipe and referenced the cookbook. That forced me to go into my memory box and find a recipe that my mom used to make a real simple and quick one so I searched and found a Raisin Jam recipe and posted it.

As far as editing entries go, I did edit a page the night I created my account, simply correcting a spelling error. When I checked today, someone edited my entry, just placing the recipe in a category: something which I deliberately ignored. Good to see that persons are really on top of having their wikis organized and worthy of use.

2. Discussion of the tool in terms of my own personal learning
Of all the tools that we have been/will be introduced to in this course, I must say I am most familiar with wikis, as I am constantly researching and reading content on Wikipedia. Although I knew that wikis could be edited by just about anyone, I never created an account to add information to any wiki – I am always thinking that I do not know enough to add to a wiki. But then in doing this assignment and reading of the dos and donts of adding content to wikis, particularly Wikipedia, I recognized that anything that is added to the page needs to be validated and a source indicated. I followed Richardson’s tinyurl link to the discussion page on global warming and read to my heart’s content. I then started to search for various words (the good, bad and ugly) just to see the discussion that took place behind the scenes. Some were sombre, others interesting and some were hilarious to say the least. It really is a task to determine what stays and what goes.

As a student, I have no qualms about using Wikipedia; but lecturers and professors sure do. I have developed my “Wikipedia work around” though, by going to the reference list and finding the original source. This is the first class that I have taken that has allowed the use of Wikipedia as a reference, or any wiki for that matter. Wikipedia was a “no, no” when I did my post-graduate Diploma in Education and Training but it has been a “NO, NO,NO” since I have started my Masters. It felt very weird having it as a reference for this course and I still have to ensure that I do not accidentally/otherwise add it as a reference for any of my other graduate course assignments.

While the thought that others were able to critique or change the content that I had created, was at first a daunting one, it later felt more liberating and less threatening – (it sure seems like one potent character builder).

My high school classmates are planning a reunion for next year and while I think using a wiki would be more than worth the while, I honestly don’t see them giving up Facebook’s Discussion board for anything else.

On a side note, the one and question that I have with Wikipedia is: what makes an entry worthy of being an entry? The five pillars of Wikipedia stated that “Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information; merely being true or useful does not automatically make something suitable for inclusion in an encyclopedia.” Even though I read this statement I was puzzled by the fact that they chose to include the ‘Balloon boy’ that recently made news, as one of their entries. I think including things like these work to undermine their credibility instead of building it. In the discussion, this was undoubtedly an issue. In reference to the story one of the contributor’s mentioned “another example of how recentism is taking over Wikipedia. By this time next year this news incident will be largely forgotten and will seem very trivial to be included in an encyclopedia. Especially when compared with the countless of similar "bored America" gossip/sensationalist news stories from the past, from before Wikipedia was created, none of those will have articles. But anything that makes the news these days, no matter how trivial, will have a Wikipedia article. Although it can be a good thing that we're maintaining a record of popular culture.” (Wikipedia, 2009). I honestly don’t think that that’s a popular culture worth maintaining - but then, it goes to show that the consensus of the group determines what is shared and what is not.

3. Discussion of the tool in terms of teaching and learning
While there are many discussions flailing about with regards to wikis as a tool for teaching and learning, I will just focus on the issues that resonate with me.

Lamb (2004) discuss how the concept of how page authorship have been “radically altered” since “content cloning (sometimes referred to as plagiarism in other circles)is often acceptable across wikis. It will be a challenging task for educational institutions that are totally against plagiarism to openly accept wikis as an integral part of the pedagogical process as the nature of wikis cuts across the social fabric of these institutions.

I totally agree with Will’s description of Wikipedia being the “poster child for the collaborative construction of knowledge and truth that the new, interactive Web facilitates” (Richardson, 2009). It provides structure for a project based environment where different students are able to work together, dialogue and deliberate until a final product/research is created. The reality is most adult learners who are in classes are also workers and the idea of team work and collaboration is most times supported within a work environment. Why should it be that different within the classrooms? Isn’t a student centered classroom supposed to provide authentic tasks that learners can work on/learn about in a group setting? I presume it will continue to be more of an uphill battle for Wikipedia to gain full fledged support from academia than from other educational institutions. Maybe if more professors were educated on how wikis could be used by their students in doing group work, or if their professional development courses involved using wikis, there would be a buy-in of what wikis have to offer.

New Roles
I can’t remember the text that I read but I do remember a statement that spoke of “university lecturers being the gatekeepers of knowledge”. If wikis become the norm, the roles of teachers will have to be redefined. What will those new roles be? Only time will tell, one thing we know for sure is that the gates of knowledge will no longer be hinged on academic gate posts, but more universal/global posts. Not many within academia are open to relinquishing their stronghold on knowledge. Institutions like MIT who were trail blazers in providing Open Courseware were chided by other universities and colleges. Time, however, seems to eventually heal all things. Lamb (2004) states “they are popping up like mushrooms, as wikis will, at colleges and universities around the world, sometimes in impromptu ways and more often with thoughtful intent.”Augar, Raitman, Zhou (2004) describe how an icebreaker used in a traditional classroom setting in Deakin Univeristy, was adapted for use on a wiki to remedy the lack of interaction that was observed in previous online discussion groups. The use of the wiki proved to be successful as the student interaction was notably increased. The university also created some wiki commandments, one of which I found very cute, it read “Wiki unto others as you would unto you (When posting on the wiki, treat other online group members as you would like to be treated).” Deakin used wikis in a social setting, but its result has implications for its use in a classroom-evaluative setting.

Intellectual Property Rights
“Another policy issue that threatens to complicate the widespread adoption of wikis in higher education is the specification of intellectual property (IP) rights by contributors to a wiki page. IP issues can be dauntingly complex under any circumstance, but when contributors may be anonymous, or where the origins of texts are uncertain, copyright questions are significantly complicated” (Lamb, 2004). Lamb later referred to communitywikis which spoke of the three common schemes related to copyright issues - CommunityCopyright, PublicDomain, and CopyLeft. While all these had simple and straightforward definitions, problems arise when authors have conflicting views as to the copyright policy that should be enacted to the wiki that they have created; and since each author has an equal right to say how the data should be shared, the ‘majority rules’ principle cannot be applied to such situations. In my view, these niggling issues will soon be resolved to make way for the more ‘rights’ and less ‘lefts’, more collaboration and less competition, more sharing and less hoarding.

A CommunityCopyright policy allows individuals to assert rights over their work while allowing their contributions to be modified within the wiki. (Of course, the copyright owner can subsequently reverse those modifications.)

A PublicDomain policy dictates that any contributor to the wiki space surrenders all copyright. A modification of this approach is PrimarilyPublicDomain, which assumes a PublicDomain policy unless an individual specifies otherwise.

CopyLeft allows anyone to use the content of the wiki for any purpose and to make derivative works, under the condition that all copies and derivative works are released under the same license as the original. The contributor maintains copyright.

Augar, T., Raitman, R. & Zhou, W (2004). Teaching and learning online with wikis. School of Information Technology. Deakin University.

Lamb, B.(2004) “Wide open spaces: Wikis, ready or not”. Educause Review.

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms 2nd edition.Corwin Press.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Podcasting Tool

1. Reflections on the process of learning about the tool
I have been hearing about podcasts for quite a while now and have listened to some podcasts on my computer, but my relationship with podcasts has really been distant. Like a spectator at a football match I have watched the ‘game’ of podcasts, but this week I came off the sidelines and became a player on the field.

These days I have really been going in fast forward motion. We spoke about information overload recently and how students engage in surface reading when there is much information to be processed. I read Richardson’s text on Podcasting about 2-3 weeks ago, trying to be one step ahead, and highlighted the process involved in doing a podcast. However, when I started creating the podcast, I went through the trail-fire and then went straight to Youtube and searched on ‘creating podcasts’. I found some tutorials called “Podcasting 101 By: Black Light in the Attic Podcast” and followed the steps in downloading Audacity (to create the podcast) and the Levelator (to equalize the podcast created). It was great using Audacity for the most part.

The one glitch that I encountered was trying to record a podcast from my micro-phone at first; the default was set to stereo and all that I was doing was recording music files already on my computer. I then went to the help section and discovered what the problem was and how it was to be remedied. It was after doing all this and successfully creating a MP3 file that I went online and read a question that one of my classmates had on using Audacity that I went back to the textbook and saw all the information that I had highlighted on creating Podcasts. I think my mind was just racing too fast for my own good.

Once again I went back to Youtube and found a tutorial called “How To upload Mp3 On Your Blogger Or Wordpress Step By Step” where there was detailed instruction to use DIVSHARE. DIVSHARE was pretty easy to use, I just logged on using a yahoo email address, and then accepted the confirmation email and right away I was able to upload the file and play it.
I wasn’t able to embed the podcast how I wanted to. I wanted to put it in between the text (this text), but I got an error when I pasted the html code in the editor and tried saving it. So I added it twice to my blog, both as a gadget and with a web link.

Ok....I've figured it out two days after my original post - after reading Lando Blogrissian :) . It's now embedded

2. Discussion of the tool in terms of my own personal learning
It was a different experience using this tool. I have always been told by my family and friends that I talk pretty fast, but now I heard it for myself. The first podcast that I created was way too fast, so I did a second one and tried to slow it down. Although it wasn’t recorded as slow as I wanted, it was better than the first.

As a learner, I have some hang-ups about the final product of a podcasts. I remember listening to the first podcast that was done introducing us to this course EDES501. I heard a cough two times in the recording and I thought to myself... ‘Ew, that recording should have been edited and that part removed.’ But then later on the same week I was watching a video on Youtube where a professor was doing a talk on ‘Open courseware’ and heard him cough while doing the presentation. The same editing thought came to me again, but with an additional thought. When persons are doing live presentations, all that they can do is apologize for the disruption and then continue. Maybe leaving little ‘uhms’ and ‘ahs’ while creating the podcasts will add to the authenticity of the process. After all, the editing process can become so time consuming in and of itself - a couple podcasts could be created in the time it takes edit one podcast and have it picture perfect.

As part of a social group, it really doesn’t matter quite as much. If its music then I just want live streaming, apart from that maybe I would just be interested in getting news feed. I feel that disconnect with this topic as I do not have an I-pod to get the real feel of having a feed updated on it daily and listening to it ‘on the go’. It can be quite relaxing to have music that you want to listen to within your reach, especially when you are travelling long distances.

3. Discussion of the tool in terms of teaching and learning
Compared to most of the new technologies that have been introduced in recent times, podcast seems to be the closest one that mimics a typical lecture. It would be interesting to do a study on the satisfaction level of educators who use podcast to deliver lectures as opposed to other (more interactive) tools. Podcast is less interactive, more didactic and may require little or no interaction with the students (depending how it is recorded).

Separate and apart from that podcast is very handy for adult education. As I had mentioned some time ago adult learners are usually self directed and prefer going at their own pace. Roy & Roy(2007) attributes the following to using podcasts in and adult education environment:
1. It facilitates self-paced learning and allows a restructuring of the use of class-time.
2. Allows for the remediation of adults who may be slow learners
3. Learners can listen and multi-task.

Class time can be used differently if students are able to listen to podcasts before class. It’s like reading a text before coming to class – thus allocating more time to discuss what was learned and clarify any topic that was unclear. In this respect, podcasts can allow for better use of class-time.

The way in which podcasts can be played over and over again, would really serve to help remedial learners to grasp concepts better. Slower learners who might have missed a concept in class would be able to grapple with the recordings and internalize what was being said during the lectures.

Of these three advantages, I hold the third one dear to my heart. Just last week I was becoming overwhelmed with the numerous journals that I needed to get through while doing my chores at home. So I downloaded DSpeech which converts text to voice to listen to all those journals while doing other things.....other than the getting used to the automated voice and pronunciations, it has worked wonders. It would be so awesome if all books were available in podcast format.

Podcast, however, is not appropriate for all courses. The nature of the course is a good indicator as to whether or not a podcast should be employed. Roy & Roy (2007) tells of the challenges of using podcasts to ‘teach learners how to do something’, and for ‘recording group sessions’. It can be very confusing listening to a group discussion via podcast, as learners would be forced to identify who is saying what and follow the line of conversation for an extended period of time.

Flanagan & Calandra (2005) sees great potential in using podcasts based on its cost-effectiveness in delivering instruction, its natural integration with voice-dependent courses (e.g. music and foreign language) and the inexpensive and quick way students can communicate with peers all over the world. While this may be true for some learners, the reality may be different for learners who are on the receiving end of the digital divide. Podcast, may however be the most inexpensive teaching tool that can be used in usher developing countries in the digital classroom.

Flanagan, B. & Calandra, B. (2005). Podcasting in the classroom. International Society for Technology in Education.
Roy, A. & Roy, P. (2007). Intersection of training and podcasting in adult education. Australian Journal of Adult Learning. 47(3).


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sample E-learning Bookmark


Shared via AddThis

Social Bookmarking

1. Reflections on the process of learning about the tool
I chose to use the social bookmarking tool, Diigo and my decision to do this was based on some online reviews that I came across and Richardson’s comparison of it with Delicious in the text. I had before hand heard of Delicious and the bookmarking capability that it offered, but had always left made a ‘mental note to self’ that someday soon I was going to explore the site. Sadly, that mental note never made it on my to-do list, but now that I am covering the topic of bookmarking in this Web2.0 course and I am required to use a tool, I chose Diigo.

Of course, for me, it was a breath of fresh air to create a Diigo account, just create a user name, enter your username and password and you are ready to start using the service. For the most part, using Diigo was like participating in a ‘guided learner’ environment as Richardson in sharing with us all the cool features of the tool, took the fun out of my exploration and ‘aha’ moments.

I just need to work out the dynamics of this bookmarking tool and see how best it works for me. I have started bookmarking some pages and following some persons. I must say clicking that “Follow me” button gave me an unnerving feeling.....It just feels weird to have total strangers follow me or for me to be following them, -it’s a Twitter feeling that I just haven’t been able to shake yet. Since I installed Diigo, I at times get an Internet Explorer error that tells me it has to close the page. Although the page is bookmarked, it is frustrating to keep launching Internet Explorer. I am thinking that maybe that’s something that has to do with the settings on IE. When I have some free time I will attempt to correct this problem.

2. Discussion of the tool in terms of my own personal learning

Social bookmarking, what in the world is that? I know what book-marking is, so if it’s done electronically, why isn’t the name electronic bookmarking? Social bookmarking, that just sound like it’s a kind of bookmarking that involves interactions with other people, but then why should it? These were some of the initial questions that I had when I saw the topic – prior to my exploration of social bookmarking. Well now that I have done the readings and created my own Diigo account, I have come to appreciate and understand the concept of social bookmarking.
Now, I have bookmarked web-pages before, I always do, but then I don’t usually use it as a point of reference. I just happen to stumble on some of these pages when I am bookmarking other pages and then I would say “Oh, this is where I had placed it”.

Well, in exploring Diigo, I realized that I could import other bookmarks that I had created, and that’s just what I did. More importantly, I realize that, it’s not just about bookmarking, I need to go a step further and organize all the information that I have bookmarked. As we spoke about in our group discussion, we constantly have to sift through a pile of information – unless we categorize this information, it will just make our lives more complicated and force us to waste time sorting through all the bookmarks that we have made.

As a graduate student, I am now working on my thesis and social bookmarking comes in quite handy where accessing resources online are concerned. I immediately started bookmarking pages that relate to my research topic. It not only helps in that respect, but I can also see other articles that individuals with similar interest have bookmarked and choose from those list, and they can do the same from my public lists. I thought to myself that the only thing that Diigo falls short of is referencing, that would go along perferctly with book-marking, especially for my thesis (it would be great having a ‘Refworks’ of my own). Then when reading I discovered a tool that offers both functionalities- Connotea. That is definitely a tool that I will be toying with in the very near future.

It really gives another dimension to collaborative work. We are regularly placed in groups to work on different tasks and this usually involves sending emails back and forth, with documents attached or sending links. There is just so much more that can be done with Diigo as we can highlight text that we need group-members to take note of and even leave sticky notes (now how cool is that?).

3. Discussion of the tool in terms of teaching and learning
“There is something in the air, and it is nothing less than the digital artifacts of over one billion people and computers networked together collectively producing over 2,000 gigabytes of new information per second. While most of our classrooms were built under the assumption that information is scarce and hard to find, nearly the entire body of human knowledge now flows through and around these rooms in one form or another, ready to be accessed by laptops, cellphones, and iPods. Classrooms built to re-enforce the top-down authoritative knowledge of the teacher are now enveloped by a cloud of ubiquitous digital information where knowledge is made, not found, and authority is continuously negotiated through discussion and participation.” (Wesch, 2009).

After reading Wesch’s article, I reflected on just how this explosion of data has really thrown out the door, the notion of ‘teacher’ as the source of knowledge. The author entitled the article “From knowledgable to knowledge-able” and this play on words sends the message home to the reader. The new technologies that now exist allow students to have new and ground breaking research at their finger-tips that they are ready to share in the classroom, research that their teachers may not even know exist.

When reading about what social bookmarking has to offer, I question what will become of librarians? Will their skills still be needed and how functional will they be when everyone can now tag and ‘shelve’ their research according to specific titles? Wastay suggests that librarians of the 21st century will have the following roles:
•Cultural Role
•Teaching Role
•Providing Access to Information
•Space Provision
•Act as Information Advocates
•Advising Role
•Information Organisation and Retrieval
•Knowledge and Digital Management
•Information Mining

I think of the teacher in the classroom and the tensions that may arise, if they introduce their students to ‘social bookmarking’. How do they get their students to improve or develop their research skills when at the click of a button students can pull a list of resources that other persons have already researched and made readily available?

These Web 2.0 technologies are constantly raising the bar and changing the parameters within which teachers and students interact. While many administrators have embraced this and are encouraging educators to factor this in their delivery of content, the methods of assessment seems to still depict a traditional way of thinking. In recent times, the style of teaching has changed – the teacher is no longer sage on the stage but a guide on the side, the teaching aids have mostly become ‘technological’ in look and feel, but the assessment seems to still be stuck in the ‘achievement test’ mode. Curricularists and school boards will need to review their processes, and the objectives and tests that are being set need to start reflecting ‘a climb’ towards the higher order skills that Bloom’s taxonomy depicts. (Trivia: I just read that the page that I researched on assessment and bookmarked was first bookmarked by Will Richardson :) )

Discussions of social bookmarking in terms of teaching and learning...I see numerous potentials for this tool in the classroom, but I am left with more questions than answers about how it will really impact the dynamics that occur within classrooms.

Wesch, M. (2009). From Knowledgable to Knowledge-able: Learning in New Media Environments. Retrieved from