Friday, November 30, 2007

So just what are these Blog things?





Common Craft is a production company. To quote their website "Our product is explanation." Explanations are what they do and they do it well (with great diagrams and simple common words). I really enjoy their videos - clear, concise, and to the point. The little paper animations are lots of fun too.

What I learned from this particular video describes exactly how and why WebBlogs (Blogs) have been an important innovation. Yes they are an easy way for somebody to post up their daily thoughts and ramblings, but they are much, much more. Blogs take the media out of the hands of the giants and gives it to us little guys (and no not all of us are Davids). Anybody with access to a computer can easily become a publisher.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Google Documents Basics

Yay! Rob Wall has been at it again! He has created two more screencasts showing how to use Google Documents.

Here they are:

Using Google Docs, Part 1 and

Using Google Docs, Part 2 (Formatting)

Google Documents is an excellent FREE web based set of office tools (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations). The nice thing about them is that you can access your files from any computer with an internet connection.

Part 1 of Rob's screencast is the basics of opening, using, and saving documents in Google docs. Part 2 shows how to use formatting options like alignment, text fonts, and text colours. If you are familar with other word processors than Part 2 will seem a little elementary but that is ok.

What I am waiting for is for Rob to get to adding collaborators to a Google document - that way multiple people can work on the same document at the same time! Lots of possibilities for us teachers!

Good work Rob. (And thanks for letting me post them here. Blogging is so much easier when you don't actually have to make up anything yourself.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Vision of Students Today

This is a short video summarizing some of the most important characteristics of students today - how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime. Created by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University.

Umm, how many of us are old school teachers. Come on admit it (as I sheepishly raise my hand). Are we really giving students what they need? Do you hate the question "Why do we need to learn this?" Am I delivering content in the most appropriate way? Is it the right content?

(sarcasm)

Bah, what am I thinking. Since I am always right my methods must always be right. These students just don't know what they need to know. No need to change how things are done.

(/sarcasm)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Keeping Little Red Riding Hood from the Big Bad Internet Wolves

So we all want our children to be safe on the internet. How do we do that? Vicki Davis (also known as Cool Cat Teacher) has written a wonderful guide to keeping your children safe on the internet.

11 Steps to Online Parental Supervision of Your Children

She makes some great points about how to supervise them. The main points I picked up is that you have to be online with them. If they Facebook then join them as a friend. Comment on what they post online. She also advocates educating your children. Yes, use blocking software but don't overblock.

Vicki also has a policy of "my house, my business." I like that policy. Keep in mind that out in the corporate world email and web histories are never private, so let them get used to it.

Read her post. To me it strikes a good balance between safety, security, and freedom.