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SocialearningIsInternet-based social networking platforms are proving to be quite useful to a wide variety of people. All sectors of society are benefiting from the use of social networks including teenagers, adults, businesses and professionals. Three social networking platforms that I am aware of are LinkedIn, Facebook and Ning. I just recently learned of Ning, I’ve had both LinkedIn and Facebook accounts for approximately five years.  Facebook seems to be the social networking platform of choice for the teenagers that I, know, including my nephews, nieces and students.

Although I cannot measure the impact social networks have had on my students it is clear to me that a number of students use a social networking platform. I often hear my students’ making reference to Facebook and I can think of a few instances of Facebook being the topic of conversation amongst my students and the school community. In one instance, the students went on a weekend trip to Washington D.C. and students posted their pictures on Facebook. Another time, I overheard students talking about an upcoming party, a Facebook post was created containing the location of the party, what to expect and what to bring to the party. Lastly, a more serious incident occurred, when one student saw the post of another stated he was going to take a weapon to school to hurt a few students. The student that posted the threatening message was expelled from school. Unfortunately, I have never heard students explain how they have used Facebook as a tool for learning. I believe, for most students, Facebook provides a platform for sharing non-educational material. One student expressed to me, that it was unfair for teachers to read their Facebook pages and confront them about topics they felt were inappropriate. Facebook has changed the lives of many students because they can communicate with others as long as they have access to a computer. Unlike a cellular phone service, is free and their parents need not know they have an account.  Educators can create a Facebook like environment geared towards learning using Ning. 21stLearning

Ning is an Internet social networking platform that can be used for teaching and learning. The word ning means peaceful. Like Facebook, users are expected to interact with each other. When first introduced by the creator of Netscape, Ning was a free service, it is no longer a free. Miniature Facebook like environments are created using Ning. Unlike most blogs and wikis Ning supports privacy options and the users must be approved by the moderators of the website one example of a Ning based social media website for teens is Teens For Planet Earth.  On the social media website Classroom 2.0 school building leaders and teachers can find lectures, podcasts, and vodcasts relevant to their professional development.

The name “LinkedIn” provides the tone and purpose of the Web-site. LinkedIn is a social media website for adults. Adults use this website to form connections with other adults on a professional or work-related basis. LinkedIn has allowed me to keep in touch with former co-workers some of whom I have known for over fifteen years. By way of LinkedIn, I have been provided with recommendations from this same pool of former co-workers.  I have used LinkedIn to join collegial groups and to recommend others for employment.  This networking website also allows me to upload videos, post articles and connect individuals in my network with each other.

LinkedIn, Ning and Facebook are all great tools for collaboration and interaction. I will continue to use LinkedIn and Ning for professional purposes and I will build a social network on Ning for one of my classes. The skills needed to maneuver Facebook are transferable to Ning. Students will have no problem working on a Ning based social networking site. It is important for teenagers to work on a social media networks created for learning.  All learning is social and requires collaboration and interaction. Online social media has proven to be beneficial for educators, teenagers and other sectors of the society.

RadioAnyQuestions RaisedOnRadio    Before television, radio was the entertainment center in the household. Families sat around a radio and just listened, enamored with the story being told and the voice telling it. Podcast are proving to have the same attraction and are as useful as radio of old.  Podcast are voice recording centered around pre-selected topics and delivered over the Internet. There can be a series of podcast dedicated to a specific topic: they allow the audience, to not only listen to a topic but more importantly, listen to a presenter numerous times, at will. Podcast are proving to be useful educational tools; both teachers and students can use podcast to learn and present knowledge. Podcast are often themed based, and are created as a series of podcast are created focusing on a specific topic or area of study. Vodcast like podcast can also be used: vodcast combines images with audio on an Internet platform to tell digital stories. Overall, both vodcast and podcast are great tools to use for digital story telling sharing and information sharing. Students and educators will find them convenient to use.

As an educator, I have found podcast to be quite informative. Ten minutes of talk can be very enlightening, informative and motivating. I found the following five podcast to be very educational. Four of the five podcast were created for educators and the fifth could be useful to both educators and students.  National Public Radio (NPR) creates podcast for educators. I found one podcast to be particularly interesting titled,

Finding-learning-tools-in-digital-footprints. It is only eight minutes long and the topic of the podcast is Learning Analytics. It is part of a series called “Social Me” that centers on young peoples movement around the Internet and what can be learned from their click streams. On the Teaching with Technology Podcast Website I found a podcast series addressing plagiarism also know as word theft, The-many-forms-of-word-theft-part3 of 3. Given the ongoing use of the Internet for research, both students and teachers learn from this series. The next podcast Listen-mark-berends-notre-dame-professor is an interview of Mark Berends a Notre Dame Professor, which is geared more for school building leaders. It is sixteen minutes in duration. It addresses school choice, charter school, various challenges school leaders face in creating a successful school and teacher’s evaluation strategies. The Website http://www.podcast.com actually contains books formatted as podcasts, called podiobooks. One book for educators “The Spirit Of Education”, consisted of twenty-one chapters. The book, The Spirit Of Education, was written by a former teacher and college professor.  Under the category of assessment I found the following podcast which presents a set of questions to pose when rolling out technology:  Assessing-The-Impact-of-Technology  presents a great set of pre and post questions that a school building leader should pose with regards to considering, measuring and monitoring the added value of instructional technology.

Although not considered a podcast platform, Voicethread technology can be used by students and teachers to create podcast. It is an asynchronous mechanism for communication that can be used to create either a podcast or vodcast. Teachers can incorporate the use of Voicethread technology in their classrooms or podcast. A Voicethread is a Web-based application that allows users to upload images and discuss the images. Like the podcast, the focus of the experience is the prerecorded voice, and a series of talks can be created around a specific topic. Voicethread provides the student with another mechanism for relaying what they understand about a topic. Using Voicethread presents another means of assessment because the student must speak about what they hear and understand. The learning process deepens with the use of vodcast and podcast because the students must prepare what they to say and get to her themselves speak. Another benefit to students when using podcast is that they have an opportunity to hear students’ present organized ideas.

Podcast require us to listen. We can listen to topics of our choosing while commuting to our next destination. From voices all over the world educators and students can be informed because of podcast. An educators’ subject knowledge and expertise will expand as a result of listening to podcast. Using both podcast and vodcast teachers have another method of formative assessment in their tool kit. Lastly, writing and speaking across the curriculum can be encouraged and differentiated instruction practices farther with the use of podcast and vodcast.


WlliamRainyAs we look back in time, we see that distance learning has been around for over two centuries.Centuries ago, correspondence courses served as the method of delivering lessons from afar. We have moved away from the correspondence courses administered by Sir Isaac Pitman’s Correspondence Colleges in England and the first president of the University Of Chicago, William Rainey Harper, where course materials were delivered by mail and communication had to be asynchronous in nature. The methods of delivering courses and evaluating assignments have advanced along with the evolution of technology.OneManReading

Many courses in K-12 education require students to write book reports. Writing and participating in book reports and discussions about books, are a common occurrence in education and society as a whole. The internet and all of its components and applications, has given way to vast new methods of facilitating book reports and literary discussions. Two online book reporting platforms are Librarything and MighhtyBell.

Librarything  is a book club that is widely,  it has close to one million users and may be the largest in the world.  LibraryThing is a website where book reviews can be read and created. Various categories related to authors and topics can be found.  Some of the categories are; 50 top rated authors, 25 most viewed books, 25 top rated books and 50 lowest rate authors. Educators can use LibraryThing to expose students to a world of readers. As a member of Librarything you can create a customized experience with people from all over the world.  Members are allowed to join groups that share in their interest and discuss books that they have read. By way of Librarything, in a matter of minutes, I was made aware of 3,608 people who read the same book as I.

ChildrenReading On the other hand, MightyBell was created as a platform for people to share their thoughts about their knowledge and experiences. Educators are using MightyBell to establish virtual book clubs and to distribute knowledge about books. I really like this idea because, on more than one occasion after completing a book I looked around for someone to discuss the book with. MightyBell could be used by authors to witness what their readers have to say about their work. Similarly, teachers can use MightyBell as a collaboration platform for books read in their class. Since MightyBell is a Web based application, students can share knowledge with other students any place in the world. Two teachers in different parts of the world can agree to have their classes read the same book. Using MightyBell the students can create digital book reports using images from their respective settings to help with telling their story. MightyBell supports text, photos, post, videos and links. Multimedia presentations can be given by the students using these features. There is more latitude for differentiation and skill-set building when working in an environment like MightyBell compared to working solely with pen and paper. Depending on your needs and preferences you will find either Mightybell or LibraryThing as excellent internet platforms for sharing knowledge about books.

Like Wikis, blogs, messages boards, and forums, MightyBell and LibraryThing are great tools that can facilitate asynchronous communication. However, synchronous communication technology adds another level of sharing to book club communities.  Some users of Mightybell are using Blackboard Collaborate as communication platform. Blackboard Collaborate allows many people to communicate at the same time while not being in the same location.Blackboard Collaborate allows the book reviewers to engage in a real-time discussion no matter where they are located. Modern tools of delivering course material and performing assessments have mitigated the barriers of time and space.  Mightybell and LibraryThing are two widely used internet tools for sharing knowledge and delivering course instruction.

 

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The internet can be viewed as an expansion to the communities that we live in and frequent on a daily basis.  The internet has given way to cyberspace learning communities. As an educator, I recognize the similarities between their every day and online communities.  I am an educator and my work place community is located in Hunts Point. Hunts Point is a neighborhood located in the South Bronx; the Bronx is one of five boroughs that make up New York City. Hunts Point has suffered from crime and poverty for many years and is part of the poorest congressional district in the country, with over half the population living below the poverty line. Furthermore, Hunts Point is home to one of the largest food distribution centers in the world, covering 329 acres (1.33 km2). The Produce and Meat Distribution Center were opened along the Bronx River in 1967 and 1974, respectively. My school serves students in grades K-8 in one building and high school students in another; the buildings are approximately a ten minute walk from each other. Unfortunately, this area of the South Bronx is littered with “red light” district activities. There are gentlemen clubs a stone’s throw away from the schools and prostitutes soliciting truckers that deliver goods to the surrounding distribution centers.  This is the community my students must pass through on a daily basis to get to school.  Some walk to school, others are driven by their parents, yet others take public transportation. Yes, the students must navigate through socially unacceptable behavior often.

CriticalThinkingSkills Similarly, the internet is made up of many communities whose borders are very blurred.  As educators, we want our students to indulge in and enjoy cyberspace learning communities. In cyberspace our students will stumble across sites that relay racist, sexist and socially unacceptable content.  To facilitate safe movement around cyberspace for our students’ educators and parents must teach and remind their students of proper conduct and pre-cautions to take; just as a parent would advise a child on how to move around the community in which they live.

Students must employ the same inter-relationship behaviors they practice in face-to-face encounters.  To negotiate  the world and cyberspace, educators and parents must  teach students how to be critical thinkers. Young people must apply critical thinking skills to all aspects of their life. What it takes to be a critical thinker can be learned from Blooms Taxonomy, a framework that is often used and measures the critical thinking process.

Bloom's_Digital_TaxonomyTo help discern acceptable and unacceptable behavior in cyberspace I would require them to conduct a Web Quest. A WebQuest is a specific kind of web-based learning activity. It was developed by Bernie Dodge, a professor of educational technology at San Diego State University. WebQuests provide students with the opportunity to work independently or in small group activities that incorporate research, problem solving, and application of basic skills. This teacher-created lesson guides student research using the Internet while incorporating skills such as problem solving. (What Is A Webquest). To practice their critical thinking skills, the Web Quest would be measured against Blooms Taxonomy. The students would be allowed to work in groups. In addition, students would be required to verify their findings using a few sources not found on the web. The acceptable sources would include text books, journals, interviews or news clippings. Finally, they would be required to provide proof that they presented their work to their parents. I would provide the students with the following Web Sites to get them started on the Web Quest 1) Netsmartzkids  2) Wiredsafety  3) San Diegos AUP  4)NYC-DOE-Internet Acceptable Usage Policy and Safety   5) Acceptable Usage Policy For Students  6)BrainPopjr-InternetSafety .

Yes, in cyber communities students will come across information that is unacceptable and or controversial. In many ways, this mirrors their day to day experience. The necessity to interpret, analyze and evaluate data and information never ceases. The ability to self-regulate their behavior, make sound inferences and explanations is paramount for their success. They must be reminded, while in cyberspace, not to relinquish their moral compass, to think critically about all information that they ingest, and view the cyber experience not as separate from their physical community but as an extension to that community.




ArchimedesAs a result of the week 4 reading assignments, I learned about the following simulation software applications. Archimedes

1) Cooties, is a simulation program that students can use collaboratively to examine the spread of disease. More about this software can be found at  http://download.cnet.com/Cooties/3000-2129_4-10211459.html

2) Roller coaster simulation site: http://www.funderstanding.com/slg/coaster/ Archimedes

3) Mathematica software supports the needs of students from K-12, Higher Education, Teachers, Professors and Researchers. http://demonstrations.wolfram.com/