Sunday, October 23, 2005

Read this first!


I'm Bud Hunt, your guest presenter today. I'm a high school language arts teacher in Longmont, Colorado. I'm also a blogger, a podcaster, and an all-around geek. I've been trying to push the envelope with technology in my classroom for the last three and a half years. Hopefully, that qualifies me to discuss technology in the classroom with you.

This blog exists as a collection of ideas, questions and resources for the language arts methods students at Colorado State University in the Fall of 2005. My thinking was that an hour and a half is not a long time to discuss what it means to successfully integrate technology into the classroom.

But it's what we've got.

So, here's the plan. Dig in and choose two piece of reading from the blog. I'd like everyone to read the post called "What is Technology? What is integration?" It's a place to start. Then, choose one of the numbered posts based on your preferences. (It's always good to incorporate student choice into an activity, right?) The posts are nowhere close to exhaustive -- they're merely starting points. Here are today's choices:

Topic #1 -- Access to Technology
Topic #2 -- Writing Online
Topic #3 -- Podcasts & Blogs & Whatnot

After you've read and surfed a bit, head over into the chat room. We'll be using that space to start some conversations. I'm asking you to use the chat room because there are probably many more questions than we'll have a chance to discuss as a big group and I think that chat rooms give more people an opportunity to speak and ask questions. At the conclusion of our computer lab time, we'll head over to your non-lab classroom and conclude our time today with a more traditional question and answer session. If you want more information, you're always welcome to send me an e-mail.

Sound good? Okay, then -- let's get going. I'm looking forward to seeing what you have to say. Thanks for the opportunity to share with you today.

Topic #3 -- Podcasts & Blogs & Whatnot

The smart folks who know what's going on are calling what's happening on the Internet right now Web 2.0. Basically, Web 2.0 is a place where we control the vertical and the horizontal. Anyone can publish. Anyone can contribute. Information is everywhere.

And we've got to teach our students how to live in such a place. No pressure.

The cool thing is that the tools are everywhere, and free, and they've never been easier to use. Here are a few popular Web 2.0 tools. Take a look and think about what has potential for your classroom (Don't worry if some of this doesn't make sense -- we're moving really fast!):

Some of the commonalities of Web 2.0 tools are that they are about creating content and sharing it with others. Web 2.0 is also about organizing and accessing quality information. We ask students to do these things all the time (although too often we only ask them to share what they do with the teacher), so why can't we ask them to do them online?

What would you like to know more about? What questions or ideas do you have? Come on over to the chat room when you're ready to post.

** If you want to know more about Web 2.0 and how it works, check out Darren's really cool presentation blog.

What is technology? What is integration?

Technology is a broad word that encompasses just about any tool created by people for a specific purpose or purposes. Here's a really, really overinformative definition of the term. Technically, any teacher that writes on a chalkboard, makes a photocopy, uses a pencil, or asks a student to read something is using technology in his or her instruction.

But when teachers usually talk about technology, expecially lately, they're talking about computers and related technologies like the Internet. I'm assuming that you are curious about how to successfully integrate computers and other new technologies into your instruction. Today, we're going to use some technology to begin thinking about and discussing how to successfully integrate technology into your instruction.

One more thing -- what does "integrate" mean? Are you successfully integrating technology if you teach your students how to use Powerpoint? How about if you podcast with them? Or, are you successfully integrating technology if you're using the tools of technology to help you teach the skills and standards that the state of Colorado asks you to consider?
David Warlick, a teacher and educational consultant, wrote recently that:
The bottom line is that teachers should learn to teach themselves within a networked, digital, and overwhelming information environment. Part of discussing their findings and conclusions during the class sessions, would be discussion the strategies that the students used to find the information and to validate and relvate them (new verb).
Several comments and two more posts followed on what the essential information preservice teachers should have in regards to technology. Feel free to follow the links and read more. Heck, join the conversation -- what would you like to know about teaching and technology? Ask David or post a comment to this entry. Better yet, head on over to the chat room and let's hash out your thoughts.

Topic #2 -- Writing Online

If you're a writing teacher, and you want your students to have access to an audience outside of your immediate school or classroom community, the Internet makes that easier than ever before. You can use the Internet to publish student work in a variety of genres, for both public and private audiences. The tools are many, as are your purposes. The trick is to make sure that the tools that you choose match your educational objectives:
  • Want to get students interacting and discussing literature? You might want to use a public or private bulletin board.
  • Want your students to process and respond to a variety of online information? A blog might be the tool for you.
  • Want to build a resource together? Then maybe you should consider a wiki. A wiki is a webpage that anyone can edit. They're great for sharing information or for writing collaboratively.
  • How would your administrator react if you put student work on the Internet in a place where anyone could find it? If they're okay with that, great. If not, try a Content Management System like Moodle or Drupal. Both can be configured for public or private access to assignments, web-based journaling, chat, bulletin boards, or whatever else you'd like. Best of all, these programs are absolutely free!

Take a look at some of the student projects below. Then, head to the chat room to ask questions or share your thoughts and ideas about using technology to create audiences and conversation spaces for students.

Student Project Links

** Darren has some more links to student weblogs and projects here.
** My students and I brainstormed some rules for online communities. They might be helpful to you as you begin to think about what an online community of writers could look like in your classroom.

Topic #1 -- Access to Technology

One thing to worry about is the actual access to technology. It used to be that was as simple as putting a student in front of a computer or handing them a calculator.

It's gotten more complicated.

If you're using computers, now you've got to make sure that you've got Internet access. Want a student to view a video via the Internet? They probably need broadband.

Is the school responsible for providing students with computer access and time? Should every student have a laptop? Should every student have a computer at home? Should every teacher have a computer? How about a SMARTBoard? What are the technology essentials for your classroom?

What should schools block on the Internet? Should they block anything at all? Why? Why not? Here's my thinking on the subject. (Can a teacher share their thoughts on the Internet, too? What will their students say?)

What other questions or thoughts do you have about access to technology? Head on over to the chat room and let's discuss.

** Here's a podcast on access to technology. It's well worth a listen.
** MIT is building a laptop for developing nations that will cost $100. The goal is to give one to every student in these countries as an opportunity to provide them the best in education. What do you think about that?
** I don't want to scare anyone -- but here's a really negative picture of technology in schools. Don't worry -- it's not this dire around here.