Well I have come to the end of the Web 2.0 course that I have been doing. I have been leading a group of staff members from my school through the course and have jumped ahead so that I have completed the course. I have decided to reflect on the course from two perspectives; as the eLearning leader in my school and from my own personal perspective.
From an eLearning leader perspective:
When I first told staff about this course in Term 2 there was a lot of interest. 10 other staff members signed up to do the course knowing that I would be there to support them. I offered Tekkie Brekkies twice a week as well as any other support staff might need along the way. As we began the course some staff opted out as they became overwhelmed and unsure if they could keep up. Those who continued are now finishing module 7 and will begin module 8 next week. I found that throughout the course some staff did slowly give up as it was taking them too long to complete a module and they couldn’t dedicate anymore time to the course. Some also became frustrated when videos or links wouldn’t work and they had to rely on me to help them through a module.
At the beginning of the course the staff signed up for a Google account. This was a big step for some as they had never explored all that Google has to offer. We set up Google Chrome as the default browser we would use for the course and we created a Google+ community where we could connect and share our learning. Then we moved on to creating blogs where each staff member could reflect on their learning throughout the course. This was a little daunting for some as sharing reflections publicly was a new experience. In Module 3 Google Drive was a big hit with the group as they could easily see the benefits of storing some items online and the possibilities for collaboration. One staff member was able to create a survey using Google Forms that they used to gather data from the whole staff about individual learning plans for students.
Next we moved on to creating using web 2.0 tools. We explored Bubbl.us and Glogster. We didn’t really go into Prezi as it is not suitable for our students (under 13 years old) to use. Some staff were able to take their learning of Bubbl.us and Glogster into the classroom and use it with their students. We then looked at Picasa as a tool for working with photos and video. It was useful that this program is linked in with Google so it didn’t require a new username and password. One staff member was able to use the program to create a collage that she has now embedded in her class blog. The staff really enjoyed using Animoto and they were all able to create a video to embed in their blogs. I think this will be one of the tools that will be used again and again in the classroom setting.
Our group is currently up to Module 7 and are having fun exploring Diigo. Everyone has signed up and is finding it beneficial for storing all of their bookmarks. Some staff have joined some groups and we have all followed each other on Diigo. The group has nearly completed the course and I think the last few modules will prove beneficial. I am looking forward to exploring Twitter with the group and I hope that they can find is as useful as I do.
Overall I think the course has been beneficial to the staff at my school. They have learnt new skills and are developing the confidence to give new ideas a go. I think one of the challenges is making the course relevant to each person. Some staff do not have classrooms and have not seen the benefit of a few tools. I think it is about leading staff to realise that there are so many tools out there that can be explored. It is a matter of finding the one’s that suit you individually and then learning how to use them to their full potential. I liked that this course was well paced and allowed me to spend time with staff looking at different ways to use technology. It gave me the opportunity to work with a small group of staff who were eager to learn.
From a personal perspective:
From my own perspective I have found that the course covered a lot of things I already know. As the eLearning leader it is important that I keep up to date with the latest technologies and help to introduce them to staff. I feel very confident using the tools that the course explored. I would love to see a course that could be an extension for staff that are already competent with many of the tools used in the current course.
In Module 10 we explored Wikis and Google Sites. I have experience with both. I have used Wikispaces to create a wiki for my class. I recently changed over to Weebly instead of Wikispaces as I found it more user friendly. I have also used Google Sites to create a project site for my class. I used it when we were learning about the human body. I created a site that had all the tasks and resources that my class would need for the project. I like Google Sites and Wikis and I hope to use them again with my class.
Module 9 is probably the module I wanted the staff at my school to benefit from the most. I think the benefits of social networking on a professional level are huge and they have dramatically improved my teaching and learning.
1. Second Life
Second Life is a site I was not familiar with. It is something that I would like to explore further, but I am not sure whether it would be useful for primary grades. It seems aimed towards an older audience. I think I will probably continue to focus on developing my school’s use of Minecraft over Second Life.
I use Facebook for mainly personal purposes. I like to keep my account limited to real friends and family, however I do “like” some educational pages that provide resources I can use.
I love Twitter! It is my favourite social networking tool for professional learning. I have gained so much since I joined Twitter in 2010. Some of the benefits are listed below:
- Connecting with other educators to discuss learning and teaching and challenge my thinking.
- Participating in Twitter chats using hashtags such as #ozprimschchat, #globalclassroom and #teacherwellbeingchat.
- Connecting my blogs with people from all around the world.
- Organising time to collaborate and connect my class with other classes around the world.
- Using Twitter to promote #TMMelb the teach meet community in Melbourne.
- Hearing about current educational trends.
4. Linked In
I used to have a Linked In account but I didn’t really see the benefit in having it. I actually closed my account down after Linked In was hacked last year.
Module 8 is all about RSS. I love RSS and was very disappointed when Google shut down Google Reader. I now use Feedly to collate all the information that I like to keep up to date with. I use Feedly to store my account and then use the apps; Mr Reader for iPad and Reeder for iPhone. I love Mr Reader as it allows me to save my favourite links directly to Diigo which I have found that very few apps offer. I have a few different folders in my RSS reader including one for professional teaching blogs, class blogs, student blogs in my school, sport, news, music and lifestyle. I like that I can sort out all the information that comes my way and keep on top of it. I never have that fear that I have missed a valuable resource because I haven’t checked someone’s blog in a while.
Module 7 explored social bookmarking in particular Diigo and Delicious. I have been using Diigo for a few years now and find it a fantastic way to store my bookmarks. I love that I can access my bookmarks from any device and that I can tag them to help keep me organised. I also like that I can create a selection of bookmarks and share them with others. I use Diigo to store my classes bookmarks and then I embed them into our Weebly. This makes it very easy to add another link to our Weebly. I recommend Diigo to anyone who wants to keep track of their bookmarks and share them with others.
In this module we explored Picasa. I think Picasa has lots of potential but is a little bit clunky to use. I find that I prefer to store my photos in Dropbox and use them from there. I also prefer to use online tools such as Animoto or Photo Peach to make slideshows and movies using my photos. I think Picasa could be a good tool for students to use as it can be installed on the computers at school. I would like to explore the collage and movie making functions more with my class.
In this module we are exploring different web 2.0 tools that can be used for creating and communicating.
The first was Bubbl.us, a mind mapping tool. I like this tool as it provides simple tools to create mind maps that can be saved and edited as well as finally saved as .jpeg or .png files. Mind mapping is a great way to brainstorm ideas and reflect on a lot of information. I created a quick Bubbl.us to get my mind around all the areas covered so far in this course.
The next tool we looked at was Glogster. I have used Glogster before when completing a 30 goals challenge to reflect on my teaching. I found it a useful tool but haven’t used it with my class yet. I hope to look into getting a subscription so that I can link my class to my account and have them complete Glogster projects.
The final tool for this module was Prezi. I am not a huge fan of Prezi as I find it can make me feel a little dizzy. I know lots of people who have commented that they feel slightly ill when viewing Prezi’s so I have for the most part avoided using it. Another reason I have avoided it is because my students are aged under 13 and are not allowed to use it. I like that it is a different tool for presenting rather than always falling back to PowerPoint.
In Module 4 we explored digital story telling using podcasts and vodcasts. I love Animoto so it was good to see it explored in the class. As a staff group we explored how to use Animoto and it was great to see the enthusiasm with how easy it was to use. Staff created videos that they posted on their personal reflection blogs as well as their class blogs. I like that in a few simple steps you can create a high quality video with images and videos using Animoto.
Here is an Animoto video that I created for my class as we celebrated 100 days of school with the Preps:
Module 3 explored Google Drive. I have used Google Drive before and love the possibilities it offers for online collaboration. The staff at my school completing the course had not used Google Drive before so it was a great chance for them to create some documents and forms. It was good to see staff enjoying using Google Drive and seeing a purpose for their new learning. One staff member even created a form that was then used to gather information from staff at that afternoon’s staff meeting. I would love to be able to get all the staff in my level on board with Google Drive so that we can start to use it for our planning. This would save a lot of emailing and saving over the top of files.