The Soul Food Cafe is an international group of writers and artists
whose global mission is to promote writing and art-making as a daily practice through the use of interactive web-based technologies such as blogging and e-mail groups.
Twitter is one of the fastest growing uses of the internet. It is the equivalent of a one minute blog completed in 140 characters. In the short time that I have used it, my knowledge of web 2.0 has been on another steep learning curve due to the virtual teamwork involved. I will outline how to use twitter in its basic format. There is much more but that can wait for another time.
Register with twitter and activate the resultant email. (Some people have several twitter names.)
Search for people who you know are in twitter and click follow. Add as many as you can and return to the home screen. Tweets by people you are following should show up on the screen.
Key in what you are doing at the moment and press update. Just keep on tweeting until someone replies or simply watch everyone else’s tweets.
Click on an avatar, go to next window and a direct message link will show up on the RHS side bar. Key in a direct message to that person and it is then kept private from the general tweeters and goes directly to their email account.
To add more interesting people, click on one avatar and look at who they follow. Choose some of these people to follow. Some of the experienced users will take a very caring and sharing approach if they know you are a newbie. Many will suggest some good people to follow. If you join in, people will want to follow you.
A person can be removed or blocked from your list if the need arises. Click on their avatar and look for the links.
140 characters is the limit to a tweet.
Uses in education
Twitter is a powerful social networking tool and this is where I see its greatest benefit. I started with 3 people to follow and one week later have 89 and 58 following me. Some of the most popular tweeters state that 150 is a good number and may not wish to follow more. However, unless they are selective, you can still follow their comments and learn.
A blog in a minute.
Quick communication and feedback tool.
Follow sites like edtechtalk and be informed when their live shows are on. (Highly recommended.)
Possibility for classroom uses.
There is so much more to twitter but give it a try. However, careful, it can be very addictive.
After spending a great deal of time taking photographs, importing them into Sony Vegas Moviestudio, I was ready to upload my digital story based on the fantasy world of Rainbow Beach into a posting in my blog. This video was created as a result of Le Enchanteur’s promptings.
However, after several hours I was still trying to embed it. First, I uploaded the video into www.teachertube.com because youtube refused to complete the uploading process. I tried to copy the various codes from teachertube and place them in the post’s code section. Failed!
Then I noticed a note on the teachertube site alerting me to the fact that if I wanted to embed teacher tube into wordpress I had to place various codes into the theme section. That was no good to me as I am not at all technical. Tried youtube again but still no success. In desperation I emailed my yahoo group who are working on the joint blog, and Imogen made a sugestion that finally worked. I had to goto the upload section where images are uploaded, click on the videos tab and place the url in there. Again the teachertube url did not work.
My last resort was to try google video. This would be my first attempt at uploading to this site. Anyway, it was a fairly simple procedure and within a short time, my video uploaded. It was then quite simple to goto>upload>videos and paste the url code in that window. Click my mouse cursor where I wanted the video to go in the post writing section and choose send to editor. That worked!!!!
So voila, here it is…..!!!!
When my internet connection is stable, I shall try youtube as I am sure this would work as well. Now, I will have to work out what to do when I return to school as google video is probably blocked. Perhaps I could just stay on Rainbow Beach.
School holidays are always a welcome relief from the pressure of lesson plans, assessment, general adiminstration and report writing. It can be a time to catch up with some genuine web 2.0 research, establish social networks and explore some of the improvements to existing web 2.0 software and discover new applications.
One software that I revisited, was the rather ‘kitchy’ voki website at www.voki.com These little computer animated vodcasts allow you to customize your own personal ID, add your voice or use a computer generated voice to communicate online or via a mobile phone. Students love using these and even the shyest don’t mind talking into the microphone.
First register for the website with a user name and password. If a student ensure they use an unidentifiable user name and if they are under the age of 13, let them access your voki logon as many vokis can be created under one user name.
You must activate your account from the email you have directed registration towards. (do not forget or you will not be able to save your vokis.)
Return to voki website and login. Click create a new voki.
(If you have already created a voki choose use existing scene to keep your voki consistent. Choose one of your existing examples. (The audio message only is changed.)
Choose your face, clothing, glasses, backgrounds and even an audio player style by clicking on the approprate icon and build your little voki. The illustrated voki above allows messages to be shared by clicking on the little notepad icon in the bottom right hand corner (just above the player) If the cube in the lefthand corner is selected, it will choose a random character for you.
When satisfied with your voki, it is time to “give it a voice”.
Choose from telephone, T or microphone. We use the microphone (making sure you allow access) and press the record button. Wait until you see the little wheel going around and it actually says ‘recording’ and start talking. A written script ensures that the audio flows smoothly. When finished, click done. If student is too shy or recording does not work, choose the T which allows text to be keyed in and an accent chosen for the mechanical voice.
Replay your message and when satisfied, click done. Save to your hard drive. You are then returned to your startup window, so that you can now find the code required for your site. I choose the small dimensions, agree to conditions and then copy the code that appears. This code can then be used to embed into a wiki, blog or webpage for collaborative use by pasting it in the usual manner.Some voki characters allow you to add messages. This opens up further educational value. Eg discussions between students or teacher/student on an initial statement made by the original voki.
Some possible classroom uses
· introductory purposes between students from other schools or countries with class member vokis all embedded in a table on a wiki.
· Allow questions to be posed and answered between classes.
· To introduce a topic in an interesting manner on their wiki, blog or web page
· If a character allows insert message, then a discussion can take place on the one voki between students.
If you use vokis or wish to use them, please add a comment and let us know how you use them.
Reflecting on the past year, as one usually does when the old year ends, it was time to write up some of the observations that have been made on the impact of web 2.0 in the classroom. Associated with this are some of the highlights experienced in both teaching and learning.
The school year started in its usual manner, with the complication that I had lost an accounting class (I was devastated at the notion as I love teaching accounting) so instead, and as we are a prep to year 12 school, I picked up grade 3/4 and 6 IT. IT classes commenced and progressed as usual, with more advanced skills in using MS Word and Excel being taught to the higher levels and basic skills to the younger levels. Some Dreamweaver, Flash and other multi media software skills also commenced.
……Enter the world of web 2.0 in June 2007…….
My classrooms changed, necessary skills taught took on a different nature, our classroom walls started ‘crumbling ‘ before our eys, software types were now often online and motivational levels increased dramatically. Below, is a summary of some of the impacts noted.
Del.icio.us started the web 2.0 journey. To our surprise and delight, google picked up one of the grade 6 girl’s page and had it on their first page when a search was made on “Penshurst and volcanoes”. This really motivated students and boosted personal confidence of those involved.
Our backyard blog was initially created with grade 6 students. Comments were made on their work by unkown people in the USA, Hawaii, Australia etc Suddenly, there was an authentic audience for their work, not just a teacher assessing assignment work. Excitement with, and pride in their own work increased amazingly. Motivation levels ran high and students were off taking digital photos of their backyards or scanning existing photos into their blogs. Parents and community members also became involved.
Year 9 boys, (our most difficult to motivate group) actually leapt out of their seats to help experiment within our school, the use of skype. They were utterly engrossed for 110 minutes in helping our staff who had not used skype before, learn the processes.
Year 8 students, a rather ‘mottled lot’, also leapt out of their seats period 5 on a Friday, and as a group and yet quite independently of my assistance, produced clips to create a video to show those ‘Los Angeles’ kids what ‘footy’ was to the Aussies.
I am harrassed and almost “bullied” at various times as I walk down the corroidor by students, often students who normally take little interest in school work or who rarely produce work of high quality or who suffer low self esteem, wanting to know if I have put their blogs, movies etc online yet. I even get queried when I am out in the community!!!
Learning from students who are 9 and 10 years old!!!! When we got our webkinz Patch, my grade 3 and 4 students worked with me as a class, using a datashow and website projection, on getting started with our virtual world. They were actually teaching me even though they had no experience in virtual worlds, themselves. These, surely are our digital natives.
The walls of our classrooms have started to crumble, so students are talking, via vokis and wikis to students in other countries and producing videos of our school, area, farms, towns etc and sharing them via a ning website with those students. We have ‘seen’ inside the walls of various other global classrooms and homes, sheds and backyards. No textbook could have the same impact.
Skype will continue to have an amazing impact on our classroom walls in 2008. When we started video conferencing with Korea, we simply asked questions of each other in the 50 minute blocks but by the fifth day, we were showing them vegemite, cricket demonstrations, aussie meat pies, blue tongue lizards, and in turn, we saw a snow clad school yard, complete with man sweeping away the snow from the school paths, Korean mobile phones/technology and Korean school uniforms. This is such powerful learning, despite the language barriers.
Virtual and online teamwork with other enthausiastic staff in other countries is now the norm. No longer am I a lone teacher in a reasonably remote rural school, struggling to keep up with the latest in technology but am able to update and communicate with global colleagues via blogs, social networks and ning sites. Mailing lists have also been great.
Grade 6 and year 7 students show no hestitation in emailing me either for advice or thanks for uploading their work or getting them involved in projects. I even got emails when I was on long service leave in Europe from grade 6 girls, asking for help with their video editing software and I was able to duly respond overnight, to allow them to continue on.
A renewed excitement and revigoration has returned to the classrooms with an overlap into other subject or class areas. Other staff are showing and interest and starting to come on board and it is hoped that this will continue and expand into 2008!