Monday, May 30, 2011

Leadership Project - Part A

After much experimentation and frustration, here is the link to our group's webcast.

This is only the last half of our project, as the file was too large to upload otherwise.

We used Vyew to do our webcast, and ran into a few trials and tribulations. Although we were all present at the webcast, many of us were in and out of video, audio, and the program due to various "technical difficulties". It took us quite some time to figure out the best protocol to speak to one another without echoing or interruption, and how exactly to get the audio to work on all of our computers. We did get everything done that we needed to, however, and there were a few aspects of the Vyew program that helped us do that.

The things I liked about Vyew were that it was easy to do a group chat, see everyone's webcam image, see who is speaking, and type in a document while the webcast is going on.

If I had to conduct my own webcast, I would probably use Skype as it is, I have found, much more user friendly.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Wicked Problem Project - Part B

What is the TP knowledge for the solution?

The technology I have chosen, Google Docs, supports the teaching strategies and methods I have chosen by making document sharing easy. Some great teaching and learning strategies that could lend well to document sharing are teacher-student edits and commenting, as well as peer editing. A teacher could easily upload a document such as a writing prompt. The student could then write his or her paper, and then share that document with both the teacher, and any peers that are willing to help edit.

This allows for meaningful and timely feedback from both the instructor and the peer.

What is the TC knowledge for the solution?

The Technological Content knowledge makes teacher and peer editing of documents, and document sharing easier because anyone with a Google account can access the created documents with a simple invite by the creator. Students can also create their own documents easily, and then enter their peers’ email addresses to peer edit. Once they “share back” the creator receives back a document that has clear, meaningful feedback.

What is the PC knowledge for the solution?

Pedagogical Content knowledge “includes knowing what teaching approaches fit the content, and likewise, knowing what teaching content can be arranged for better teaching” (Mishra & Koehler, 2006).

The pedagogical choices I have made concerning teacher and student edititing processes are made more accessible by the technology of Google docs because of the program’s ease of use, accessibility, sharing functions, and cost effectiveness. The students at the middle school level have not had a wide variety of experiences with word processing programs. However, the extremely simple interface of Google docs will allow them to complete their word processing tasks easily and without much distraction of extra tools that they do not need or know how to use at this point.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Web Conferencing

My group chose to use Vyew because it is totally free and doesn't need to be downloaded to a computer to work.

We conducted our "web conference" on Thursday, May 26, and had multiple difficulties with the program, although we were able to, after 90 minutes, get everything accomplished that we needed to. I do believe, as my other group members have said as well, that we could have gotten this done in much less time if we had been using a different program.

Some of the difficulties we encountered started right from the beginning. My first problem was that it required a Flash Player update, which didn't work the first few times I tried it. This program also does not have a recorder built in, so I needed to download a trial version of Camtasia studio before in order to get it to record. Thankfully, because I hadn't used Camtasia before, the recording tutorial it provided was brief and simple to understand. So, after I got all the prerequisite technology in order, I was finally able to log into the room that one of the other members set up.

Once we got into the room, for me, it was fairly easy to turn on my webcam and see that feed coming into the room. It was also easy to see who was currently in the room, and we all figured out pretty quickly how to chat to help each other get going. Once we decided on a "chat protocol" (we needed to do this because if we all had our speaker/audio on permanently, there were many echoes and delays in the audio) there were a few problems like one person's webcam wasn't compatible, another person's mic/audio wasn't working properly, and another person had internet connection difficulties. I didn't seem to have any of these problems, and I have to wonder if it was because I was using a laptop with a webcam/mic/speakers all built into one? So, because of these difficulties, we had to do a lot of back tracking and catching one another up with the info, and typing into the chat room.

After my good experiences with Skype, and because I know so many people use it, I think that it would be hard for me to continue with Vyew after having so many problems. At least we have some of it figured out for now. Now all I have to do is figure out how to compress that 90 minute video!! :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Part A - A Need or Opportunity

Part A – A Need or Opportunity

The Need or Opportunity
The important educational need that I am seeking to address is that due to financial restrictions, my school district will be searching for a MS Office compatible free ware program to replace the more pricey (over $45 per computer) MS Office that we have had in the past. Since the district has already piloted Open Office and has not cared for what it can provide for its students and teachers, they are still on the lookout for what to use when the new Macs and PCs are installed this summer. This need for an Office compatible freeware program is what has driven me to find a solution to this problem with the growingly popular Google Docs.

Technology used to Address the Need
The technology I have chosen to address this need is Google Docs. Google Docs is an online word processor, spreadsheet, form, drawing, and presentation tool that allows the user to “Create and share your work online and access your documents from anywhere. Manage documents, spreadsheets, presentations, surveys, and more all in one easy location” (Google). The reason I chose Google Docs is because of its user friendly interface, accessibility to teachers, students, and parents, as well as, and probably most importantly, the fact that it is free. The only thing it requires is that the users have a Google account. The Google account can be created through Gmail (Google’s email client) or through another email linked to Google.

Greenville Public Schools, if they chose to implement the use of Google Docs would begin implementation in the 2011-2012 school year. There would need to be several supports in place in order to make using Google Docs in the classroom a success. First of all, students would need to register for a Google account. This could pose some problems, because from what my research tells me, users need to be 13 years of age before they have access to a Google account. This could be different for educational settings, however, I would need to continue my research to solve this problem. Students could then potentially have the same Google account for their entire high school and middle school career. Classroom teachers and/or technology teachers in the building would need to provide instruction to students on how to use Google docs, as it is different from MS Office in a few ways. They would especially need explicit training on how to use the peer editing functions and share functions. In the past, my district has used My Access, an online writing prompt scoring and editing tool. Again, due to financial restrictions, this will be taken away, so Google Docs would (and could easily) replace this program with proper instruction on its use. With the variety of uses, Google Docs would be used across the district in multiple grade levels, buildings, classrooms and computer labs.

Research and Resources
Some difficulty I had with the research of my product was that because Google is so engrained into the internet, many of the sources I found were sponsored by Google itself. Because of this, I didn’t feel that I could get a very subjective review of Google docs. My searches had to be very specific, and needed to include both videos and regular research. Here are a few websites I found to be helpful:

Getting Started with Google Docs in the Classroom - ProfHacker - The Chronicle of Higher Education

UsingGoogleDocsintheclassroom.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Google Docs in the Classroom | Clif's Notes

Improving School Communication with Google | Edutopia

Plan for Implementation
With the school year winding down, it will be difficult to implement my project with students, as I feel it will take a significant amount of time to get accounts set up for all of them since that would need to be something approved by the district. Because of this, I plan to implement the teacher usage portion first to see how that goes before I branch it out to the students.

As team leader this year, I have to send out a weekly agenda to the team of teachers that I work with. Many times, this is something that is edited multiple times before we come up with a final agenda. I would like to create the team agenda in Google Docs, then send out the link to this document to my team. Then, when they have something to add, it gets added to the agenda and we can print the final draft before the first meeting on Monday morning. With the time constraints that we have (only one full week left) I feel that this will be a reasonable implementation to complete, and will give the teachers who could potentially be using this product next year a “crash course” in how to use it.

Indicators of Success
I will know that my implementation has been successful if all of my team members are able to edit the document I have sent out, and then all those edits are contributed to the final document. Some instruction will be needed, but hopefully this will be able to happen without much side by side guiding.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wicked Problem Project Idea

I think I am going to work on my district's problem of obtaining and finding freeware instead of using software such as MS Office, My Access (online writing and scoring program) to do basic tasks. I was informed recently that even though we will be getting fancy new computers next year, we won't be getting an Office package because it costs too much for licensing per teacher. Boo on that.

Because it is becoming so widely popular, I would like to use Googledocs to help solve this problem of practice.

So...I think I am on the right track with this. Let me know if you have any ideas for me or see something glaring that I am missing.

I'll look forward to working with you!


Friday, May 6, 2011

CEP 812 - Intro Video