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Archive for the ‘Social Publishing Sites’ Category

The pedagogical model termed “flipped classrooms” refers to a scenario where homework and lectures are reversed. Typically, students come to class to hear lectures and then go home and complete the application of that lecture (e.g., homework).  In flipped classrooms, students watch a short video before coming to class, and when students come to class, they apply the lessons taught in the short video. This approach allows instructors to use time in class to build skills and for collaboration.

Educators are adopting this model anytime students watch or listen to lectures before coming to class and then do workshops in class. In one approach, teachers may actually set up a series of videos with intermittent quizzes to test knowledge acquisition. A series of videos may help to ensure that students have a certain level of knowledge before coming to class. While potentially helpful in all classes, this approach seems to have a great deal of potential for career and technical classes (CTE).

Career and technical instructors have struggled with e-learning because CTE classes demand that students spend time in workshops and laboratories to ensure they are applying theoretical knowledge. A hybrid approach seems to work well in CTE classes. Further, the flipped classroom is a technique that may help students be efficient and teachers be more effective.

In the traditional classroom, students often focus on transcribing lectures rather than understanding what is being said. A pre-class video format allows students to view the lecture material as many times as they need in order understand the material. Students that need extra time to understand material (i.e., accessibility issues) may find this approach very helpful. In addition, teachers may be able to detect errors more efficiently in this model because more class time is spent on the application of material. Collaboration and informal learning may also be facilitated in flipped classrooms.

The flipped model does require more preparatory work for both the teacher and student. Teachers must be very organized and sequential in this approach. Students must spend time viewing and reflecting on the videos before class. However, students may get frustrated if their technology equipment is slow or incapable of loading the videos (e.g., dial-up internet).

Moving the videos used in flipped classrooms to mobile devices makes this model even more attractive. Students could access lectures anytime, anywhere and just in time for training. Business and industry may actually begin to think about adopting this model for training incumbent workers. Ultimately, this model places more responsibility on students to learn material before class and affords them the opportunity to reflect on and apply this information on their own. Flipped classrooms allow students to master material rather than just being exposed to knowledge.

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2010a, January). 7 things you should know about flipped classrooms. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7081.pdf

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The following list was primarily derived from EDUCAUSE.  They produce a monthly publication that seeks to identify, compile, and review new technologies that show promise in education.  Below, I describe the emerging technologies that began to gain prominence in 2008.

  • Lulu.  Lulu provides tools to publish, print, and design original content.  Educators and students have the ability to publish content (e.g., reports, books, or posters) with nominal expense (EDUCAUSE, 2008a).
  • Flickr.  Anyone can upload, view, mark, or tag pictures on this photo-sharing website.  Flickr embodies many elements of Web 2.0 applications and relies on user content to promote community among consumers.  Users have the ability to provide a setting for developing relationships or shared events, and in order to help enhance relationships, groups can be formed (EDUCAUSE, 2008b).
  • Google apps.  This online suite of file storage and web-based programs operates within a web browser.  In Google Apps, individuals can share content by granting someone permission to view that content.  The ability to easily share content promotes peer review of material and collaboration.  The programs featured on Google Apps include productivity tools (e.g., word processor or spreadsheet), communication tools, (e.g., calendar or Google Talk) and web development tools (EDUCAUSE, 2008c).
  • Ning.  This online social networking application allows consumers to generate their own network or take part in another individual’s network.  Each creator is given the opportunity to completely personalize the functionality and appearance of the SNS.  This technology is similar to Facebook with the exception that users can create their own closed network.  Ning provides a neutral setting where teachers can harness the power of social networks, such as the promotion of a strong sense of community among a cohort of students (EDUCAUSE, 2008d).
  • Multi-touch interfaces.  These input devices distinguish various touches on the surface of the screen such as pinches, rotations, swipes, and other actions that facilitate instantaneous interface with digital content.  Multi-touch interfaces also allow several users to simultaneously collaborate with digital content (EDUCAUSE, 2008e).
  • Second Life.  Second Life is a modern day virtual world hosting over 13 million “residents,” a flourishing economy and a great deal of virtual land.  Consumers can create or alter virtual space with ease, and this scenario has encouraged experiments in creating space designs.  For example, Second Life often hosts virtual field trips or serves as a platform to display student media.  There are a number of social dynamics that promote teamwork and self-directed learning (EDUCAUSE, 2008f).
  • Wii.  This gaming console allows participants to interact with the game applications through physical gestures and movement.  Academic researchers have employed this technology to create applications such as an interactive whiteboard or collaborative choreography tools.  Researchers can use Wii and similar gaming consoles to test how active learning exercises can improve the performance of students with various learning styles.  Wii can stimulate physical activity (EDUCAUSE, 2008g).
  • Geolocation.  This application links digital content with a physical location.  Geolocation is also called geotagging.  A common use of geolocation is the association between a picture and its geographic location.  Geolocation can help to coordinate resources and information, which can add a new layer of understanding to research (EDUCAUSE, 2008h).
  • Zotero.  This online research tool offers automated bibliographic resources to users.  Zotero runs in the browser, so the citation process becomes seemless and easy.  All the bibliographic information of a Web page is stored in the consumer’s library of sources (EDUCAUSE, 2008i).
  • Ustream.  Users of Ustream can broadcast a personalized channel on this interactive Web streaming platform.  Consumers can promote their own shows, have conversations and host events on this platform.  Educators can employ the free streaming video and initiate a variety of authentic assessments using this tool (EDUCAUSE, 2008j).
  • Flip camcorders.  Flip video camcorders allow consumers to shoot, capture, and produce video content with this petite, economical, and user-friendly device.  For faculty members, these devices present new opportunities for authentic assessment and foster visual learning.  Because this process is user-friendly and inexpensive, teachers and students might find it palatable to produce video content that can enhance learning (EDUCAUSE, 2008k).
  • Lecture capture.  This technology enables teachers to record classroom activities and lectures and then make them accessible for students in a digital format.  Educators can limit lecture capture to audio, but video recordings that feature the lecturer, an electronic whiteboard, or screen capture are gaining in popularity.  Lecture capture further expands on screencasting (EDUCAUSE, 2008l).

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008a, January). 7 things you should know about Lulu. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7033.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008b, February). 7 things you should know about Flickr. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7034.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008c, March). 7 things you should know about Google Apps. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7035.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008d, April). 7 things you should know about Ning. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7036.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008e, May). 7 things you should know about Multi-touch interfaces. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7037.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008f, June). 7 things you should know about Second Life. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7038.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008g, July). 7 things you should know about Wii. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7039.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008h, August). 7 things you should know about Geolocation. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7040.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008i, September). 7 things you should know about Zotero. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7041.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008j, October). 7 things you should know about Ustream. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7042.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008k, November). 7 things you should know about Flip Camcorders. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7043.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008l, December). 7 things you should know about lecture capture. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7044.pdf

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This table of contents chronicles the reflections on various projects and assignments of IT 860, Emerging Technology in Instructional Technology.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I.    Introduction to Blogfolio

II.  Reflection on Assignments

III. Reflection on Readings

IV.  Overall Reflection on IT 860

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Web 2.0 is now a technological juggernaut, and these technologies are revolutionizing the way people communicate, collaborate and accomplish basic tasks. The focus of IT 860, Emerging Technologies in Instructional Technology, was to explore the latest and greatest Web 2.0 tools that show promise in education. Dr. Yuen exposed each student to the theoretical basis for each Web 2.0 tool through his book, “Collective Intelligence and E-Learning 2.0: Implications of Web-Based Communities and Networking.” In addition, students were required to use each Web 2.0 tool that was discussed in order to gain knowledge through experiential learning.

The first generation of the Web was developed primarily by experts and aimed at merely sharing knowledge. Web 2.0 differs in that these tools are created and developed by a variety of users with the intent of collaboration and interactivity. This focus on collaboration and interactivity has facilitated a sweeping embrace of social media. For example, if Facebook was a country, then it would be the third largest in the world behind China and India.

The Web 2.0 applications covered in IT 860 can be divided into three categories: tools that connect people, tools that share knowledge and tools that connect people and share knowledge in virtual environments. A large portion of the readings focused on issues involved with connecting people, while the bulk of the Web 2.0 tools that were covered focused on the sharing of knowledge. It should be noted that while I discuss these ideas separately, the whole point of Web 2.0 is to provide environments that both connect people and share knowledge.

Tools that Connect People

The premise of collective intelligence is founded on the power of tools that connect people. A series of readings helped to shed light on the philosophical basis for the use of these connecting Web 2.0 technologies in education. A new paradigm in learning theories was introduced in 2004 with the birth of connectivism, which stems from the traditions of behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism. Our first reading was on connectivism and described the power of collective intelligence. Connectivists hold that learning takes place as networks of individuals share knowledge, and one powerful Web 2.0 tool covered that represents the power of human connection is Twitter.  For example, Twitter boasts 50 million Tweets per day; that is a lot of connecting!

As might be expected, this level of connectivity requires a good organizational infrastructure and can lead to a great number of legal concerns in education. Therefore, our second reading addressed the obstacles to implementing Web 2.0 in educational institutions. Further, educators need to consider the human and social issues involved with the implementation of Web 2.0 in the classroom, which was our third reading.

Synchronous Online Learning Environments (SOLE) represent an excellent example of synchronous online learning that is offered in an ethical and effective way. In SOLE, students have a chance to interact with peers and the teacher in a similar way to a traditional classroom, and multiple channels of media simultaneously connecting with learners enhance this interaction.

Tools that Share Knowledge

The power of Web 2.0 to share knowledge is robust; in fact, the number of tools is overwhelming. Dr. Yuen did an excellent job of weeding through the volumes of applications available and introducing students to the best of these tools. A reading that described the potential of Web-based video (e.g., YouTube) began this quest.

Following this reading, students dove into a myriad of Web 2.0 tools aimed at sharing knowledge. Social bookmarking (Diigo) is a Web 2.0 technology that allows users to bookmark Web sites and place tags on those bookmarks using keywords. Social publishing sites (Scribd) allow users to share and find written documents on the Internet or mobile devices, such as Word, PowerPoint or PDF. Screencasting (Jing or ScreenToaser) occurs when individuals capture a video of what happens on a computer screen over a span of time, and audio (e.g., narrative) is usually part of a screencast as well. File Sharing (Drop.io) is a powerful trend in Web 2.0 that facilitates collaboration, and users can create a “drop” by uploading an image, audio, video, document or other digital content. VoiceThread is a media aggregator that permits users to upload media to a website, and this tool also facilitates collaboration and feedback on such media.

Connecting and Sharing in Virtual Worlds

Virtual worlds find their ancestry in video games. Therefore, our first reading on virtual worlds actually focused on a model of Game-Based Learning (VISOLE). Learning through games is gaining more attention from several educators. Perhaps an even more promising environment for learning is seen in virtual worlds. Our final reading focused on taking a Pedagogical Odyssey in Three-Dimensional Virtual Worlds (The SECOND LIFE Model). As a point of application, each student had an opportunity to make a presentation at a conference in Second Life.

Summative Thoughts

All of these tools described above promoted the sharing of knowledge. However, it would be misleading if I failed to highlight the intrinsic ability of each of these tools to also connect learners. A symbiotic relationship exists between connecting people and sharing knowledge in Web 2.0.

Dr. Yuen provided an incredible environment for learning these emerging tools. In fact, he taught the class through a platform (Mixxt) that closely resembled a social networking site (SNS) rather than through learning management software (LMS). Naturally, this approach led to more connectivity among students and facilitated the sharing of knowledge among the group.

This class has been an incredible journey of learning. I now feel confident to use Web 2.0 tools and design instruction around them appropriately.

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Virtual worlds offer an exciting new outlet for delivering content to learners. Second Life is one the best known and largest of several virtual worlds that are designed to attract crowds, including educators. Second Life is arguably the best virtual world in terms of collaboration, education, community and innovation.

How big is Second Life?

There are over 1 million residents in Second Life that regularly go “inworld” (i.e., log in and activate an avatar). In addition, there are over 1,400 organizations in Second Life ranging from colleges to mainstream corporations to government agencies. Many of these organizations own property including the U.S. military. Second Life contains around 500,000 acres of virtual real estate that can be purchased or rented. In 2009, the transactions in Second Life garnered over an astounding $500 million; that is actual U.S. currency. Second Life allows real-life individuals to have full-time jobs within this virtual world.

In some ways, this movement mirrors the growth of the Internet. Second Life is often used as a test bed for corporations such as Sony, Nissan and Sun Microsystems, among others. In the 1990s, the Internet was largely a research and educational network, but it has quickly become a commercial juggernaut.

What do people do in Second Life?

“Residents” of Second Life can sign up for free, and they simply do life together. They make friends, play sports, watch movies, run businesses and construct buildings. Residents can walk, run and fly, and they can dress in any body style they wish. In fact, users can change from a hip-hop male to a glamorous female to an animal all in the same session. In other words, they can be anyone or anything they wish to be, and they can do almost anything they wish to do.

Opportunities for Learning in Second Life: A Case Study

Because Second Life allows users to be anyone and do anything, opportunities for rich learning experiences abound in Second Life; they are virtually infinite. One such opportunity came as an assignment in IT 780. We were asked to create a presentation on a Web 2.0 topic and present this topic in the context of a Second Life Symposium.

Second Life Alcove

The symposium took place on The University of Southern Mississippi’s Second Life island: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/GoldenEagle1/124/122/24. Each student prepared a short presentation that was displayed on a giant display alcove (pictured above).

Second Life PodiumThe presentations included several items. A podium in the front of the alcove displayed a “real-world” picture of the presenter, and if viewers clicked on this image, then a short biography of the presenter appeared. The front podium also held a title slide for the presentation. If viewers clicked this image, then they could see a short abstract of the presentation (presented below). Beside the front podium a “comments” box was placed so that viewers and peers could leave feedback on each presentation.

Second Life HandoutAnother feature of each presentation was a handout. The handouts allowed each passer-by to take a summative artifact of each presentation. Viewers could obtain a handout by clicking on the handout poster, which was placed on an easel beside each presentation, as illustrated.

The Presentation: eyePlorer

Obviously, the main feature of each presentation was contained on the five posters placed on the alcove module. I chose to do a presentation on eyePlorer. EyePlorer is a free Web 2.0 application that allows learners to “explore and process knowledge.”  Learners begin by typing in a word or phrase to research. EyePlorer gathers information from the Web and arranges it into a color wheel of concepts.  If users hover over each concept on the color wheel, then they get a brief description about that item. In addition, each term is cross-referenced with associative concepts.

The premise of eyePlorer is to enhance the way “users interact with knowledge and information online.”  Discovering information is accomplished in an interactive, visual and innovative manner. This application is ideal for brainstorming and finding associative ideas. An interactive notebook is provided to drag and drop facts, which allows users to find and collate references. The process of searching for topics and collecting notes helps learners prepare to write and promotes digital literacy. My presentation can be viewed below.

Rewarding Experience

The process of creating this presentation for Second Life was rich and rewarding. As might be expected, I learned a great deal about Second Life simply as a result of having to present in the context of Second Life. This required that I learn how to communicate, travel, change clothes and the list could continue.

Interestingly, I was learning on two levels simultaneously. I was doing the research on eyePlorer and learning about that Web 2.0 technology, and at the same time, I was learning about Second Life. This experience was almost like “digital dual-coding.” I haven’t heard that term before, but I think the experience is accurately described by that phrase.

A Sidebar Takeaway

As a side note, I have a great story that I will remember from this project. Our instructor told us to ensure that we had all documents in place well ahead of time and that we had a secure connection for the presentation. All of the documents were in place well ahead of time, so that was no issue. In considering a secure Internet connection, I could think of no better place than my workplace, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC). After all, we have a network that flows straight from our state’s capital, Jackson, on a pretty beefy infrastructure. I spent the morning of the presentation double-checking to make sure Second Life worked from my desk, and I was ready to go. The presentation started at 3:00, and around 2:55 (no kidding), MGCCC’s entire network crashed. They initially thought it was a server problem, but we came to find out that AT&T actually cut into a major fiber. I wound up having to drive to my house and arrived at the presentation 30 minutes late. All of this to say, that I was reminded of a valuable lesson: “The best made plans of mice and men often go awry.”

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File sharing is a powerful trend in Web 2.0 that facilitates collaboration. Drop.io is one of the most popular file-sharing tools despite only being a few years old (founded in 2007), and this free online service is designed for real-time collaboration and private file sharing. In 2008, Drop.io formed a partnership with Scribd, a social publishing site. In this partnership, Drop.io adopted Scribd’s iPaper viewer that allows streamlined document viewing

Attributes of a Drop

Users can create a “drop” by uploading an image, audio, video, document or other digital content. Drop.io does not require an account, email or registration to create a drop. Each drop is given a unique URL so that users have a location to access the drop. In addition, each drop also has a unique voicemail phone number for messages, a unique conference phone number for collaboration and a unique email address.

Sharing a Drop

Once a drop is created, Drop.io makes sharing the content easy with many options. The various options are presented below in the illustration. For each sharing option, Drop.io automatically sends the content via the chosen medium. For example, if email is chosen, then users only need to type the email address of recipients and do not have to access their personal email account. The SMS option allows users to send the Drop.io link as a text message. Each Drop.io site can also be shared through social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook. Users can capture all of the content and voicemails from the drop site with the “Zip File” option.

Creating a Drop

In this assignment, students were asked to create a Drop.io site and invite others to collaborate on the drop. In order to get started, users should first access the Drop.io website. Creating a drop requires three easy steps and is exemplified in the following illustration.

  1. “Select Files” from your local computer and upload them.
  2. If you would like to personalize the drop URL, then you can click in the specified area and type an extension after “http://drop.io/….” Otherwise, the URL is automatically assigned for the drop.
  3. Click on “Create a Drop”

The next page that appears is the drop itself. The system automatically asks for an email so that a receipt can be sent of the drop’s creation. Providing this email will also allow users to edit the layout, design and parameters of the drop site. However, it is important to note that this confirmation is not required. Users can also join Drop.io, which grants them the ability to customize the drop site.

Collaborating Within a Drop

An important feature of each drop is the unique contact information that is automatically created. Each site is issued a unique voicemail so that others can leave a message on the drop site. If a user leaves a message, then it appears as an mp3 file that can be played by visitors. A unique conference phone number is also issued for each drop upon request, and this facilitates collaboration because everyone knows the point of contact. Finally, a unique email address is issued for each drop site.

Drop Potential

Drop.io is an excellent tool for peer-to-peer collaboration. The possibilities of this technology are far reaching. Students could use Drop.io to better collaborate on group projects. Faculty members and college committees could collaborate on pertinent information using this site. Businesses and industries could also use Drop.io for sharing information.

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One of the great aspirations of many researchers and academics is to be published, but sometimes this goal can seem elusive. However, document sharing in Web 2.0 is making this elusive desire much more obtainable and changing the rules of publishing. Scribd (ˈskrɪbd) is a Web 2.0 application and represents the biggest social publishing site in existence, even though it is was created in 2007.

Scribd allows users to share and find written documents on the Internet or mobile devices. Users can upload a variety of formats such as Word, PowerPoint or PDF. Scribd then turns each document into a web document, which is posted on iPaper. This final web document can be shared in a variety of ways: Facebook, Twitter, Buzz, email, URL or embed code. The embed code allows users to place the Scribd document in a blog or on a Website. Scribd documents can also be found through search engines (e.g., Google). In addition, users can subscribe to other Scribd accounts as an RSS feed, which automatically sends updates any time a new file is added. The vast and powerful sharing capabilities of Scribd make this tool very valuable for individuals wanting to disseminate knowledge and share research. The video below is a brief description of Scribd:

Scribd is easy to set up, free and user friendly. Signing up for Scribd is quick and painless. As mentioned before, Scribd easily connects with other Web 2.0 tools. For example, those users that have a Facebook account can actually join Scribd through their Facebook account. Users that do not have a Facebook account can also join. In either case, an activation email is sent to the user.

After joining Scribd, uploading a document is easy. Clicking on the “upload” button and selecting a document to upload accomplish this process. Users can also jot down a comment to upload, and all submissions can instantly be sent to Twitter, as illustrated by the “Readcast” option:

As soon as the document completes the upload process, Scribd asks for some basic information. A title for each upload should be given accompanied by a brief description. Each document should be classified under a specific category to aid those searching for documents. Once again, documents can be sent directly to Twitter by clicking the “Share” option, which is demonstrated in the illustration below:

The possibilities of Scribd go well beyond the classroom as evidenced by many professional companies’ use of the application. Users have the ability to view and comment on the documents hosted in Scribd. Social publishing sites are facilitating change in the publishing arena. Not only does Scribd produce and host a quality product, but they also connect users with millions of other subscribers. There have been very few changes in the way documents are published over history. Gutenberg’s printing press was one such event, and the advent of the Internet seems to be ushering in monumental changes in a similar fashion, though the Internet is still in its infancy.

I wanted to have first hand knowledge of this application, so I uploaded several documents to my Scribd account. I tried a PowerPoint file, Word document and PDF file. All three files uploaded quickly and accurately. The PowerPoint file is embedded below:

Scribd is a powerful and exciting Web 2.0 technology. The potential to share presentations and papers is enormous. In addition, Scribd can help store important documents. I will definitely continue to use Scribd in a variety of ways. For example, I am conducting a presentation in Second Life in coming days. I am going to link a couple of the files from Scribd into the Second Life presentation.

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