Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Fun" projects

So I think I was supposed to blog about this before...sorry.

I completed the riddle project and the nerd in me rejoiced to use something from literature! (Oedipus Rex) It was fun and I used a new format on Animoto that's free--I think you can use it for greeting cards and things, too.

The video made me feel like a complete moron. Really. I have a hard time with things like that--it's part of the reason I wore sunglasses. It was a very psychological/mask thing. And also, I wasn't about to get in the shower to do it, so that was my attempt at being "creative."

I not only had a hard time trying to get the lip-sync right, but the first time I recorded myself, I screwed up and accidentally deleted it. So the second time, I had very little time and had to rush. But I just used my camera--clearly I am not yet accustomed to the webcam to the point that I know how to save videos. (Although I tried that again a few days later for the "I Built the Web" and was able to use the webcam without accidentally deleting it! If at first you don't succeed...)

Anyway, I thought it was neat for us all to contribute and for one person (thanks again, Morgon!) to put it all together. We really did build the web!

Tying the worlds together...

So I never found anyone via Couchsurfing to practice my French with, but I went on the Classroom 2.0 Ning site one evening and found every person who was chatting, read their profiles, and then sent messages to each person who lived somewhere other than the United States asking for a Skype conference.

Luckily for me, a very nice lady named Alison agreed to have a conference with me. She is Australian and lives in Adelaide. We talked for about 40 minutes on Saturday morning (my time). There is a 13.5-hour time difference between this part of the country and Australia, so there was some discussion about what time we could meet that wouldn't be the middle of the night for either of us. Alison even sent me this link that helpfully shows time differences for people like us!

I did some research and found a tool that records Skype conversations called Supertintin for Skype. The first five minutes are free, but you have to pay to get more recording time. It was very easy to use--I tested it out the day before--and then I converted the file format using flash for your viewing pleasure. :)

Overall, this was a pretty neat experience. Alison is just beginning a program similar to the one I'm finishing, and currently works in a university library. I offered help to her in future classes in exchange for her time this morning, and I hope we can keep working together and talking. She was really nice.

This assignment showed me again how small the world really is. We had to read a book a few semesters ago called The World is Flat, and I think that becomes truer for me every day.

Friday, April 30, 2010


So I muddled through this a bit at first. First of all, for reasons I can't really articulate, I thought I was supposed to upload the photos to Picasa. As you may imagine, I couldn't figure out how to do the assignment there since we were supposed to do it in FLICKR.

So after I figured it out, I uploaded them and was able to drag them onto the map. But I couldn't find anything that talked about geotagging, so I assumed I hadn't done it correctly. Finally, I saw the last video on the assignment page and realized that I HAD geotagged them, and that the reason they weren't showing up when I searched for our class tag was because I had just uploaded the photos. So, finally, I did it! Here's the link to my map.

I watched the TED talk as well, and I thought that was fascinating. The resolution of the photos was amazing and I also thought it was awesome that the ads could cease being pop-ups and could just be zoomed in upon at will. I also loved the ability to put the photos in sequence and create a panoramic view, and the Notre Dame "collage" was amazing as well.

I already knew my camera kept track of some other data when I took photos. Since I don't know too much about aperture, etc., I am not as interested in that stuff. But the date and the camera type are all very interesting. I have found the dates useful already--since I don't scrapbook, it's a great way to keep track of when photos were taken.

So what I learned from this assignment was, basically, that our memory cards hold a lot more than we think, and that we are teaching the machine, like Wesch illustrated in his video. And it's pretty cool, especially when I imagine how much more advanced this technology will get in the future.

Private Universe Theory

Well, I figured I probably didn't know the right answers to this--despite taking Physics in high school and Astronomy in college. I was close on the seasons, but had no clue about the moon.

This presents an interesting theory about prior knowledge that kind of rocks my educator's world. In schools, we know the standard course of study from year to year, and we know the SCOS for the grade level we teach and those immediately above and below it even better. So we tend to base what we think students' prior knowledge is on that. We don't account for voids like this.

This told me that we need to do some serious science instruction in early elementary school, using hands-on teaching techniques. And that 3-D models, either in person or online, can teach a lot more about something like this that SEEMS abstract, even though it is actually concrete--it's just too big for us to conceive of easily.

We can use the web to fix gaps like this--and I think that is our future in education. That's why I started this program in 2008. I hope that we can embrace this in earlier grades, too.

And when I get home tonight, I think I'll pull out the trusty telescope and talk to my boys about how the universe works a little bit. Just to lay some ground work. As I saw from the interview, if they form their own ideas about this, it will be hard to get them to let go. Kind of like how everyone wanted to hold onto the idea that the world was flat...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wish Trip

So I decided to do my Wish Trip back to London and Paris, where I visited when I was in college. I would love to go back, especially now that I have a lot more French classes under my belt!

The map in Google was really neat, but kind of a pain. I had a really hard time getting the functions to work at first, and then for no apparent reason, the map I had been working on disappeared. So I started again and realized that something must have been wrong the whole time when I first did this, as many features I saw had not been there five minutes before. Go figure.

I had fun marking everything and playing around to get the lines to work. I also enjoyed leaving little descriptions of what we did where. It was a nice trip down memory lane for me.

I could see tools like us drastically changing how we travel. I clicked around on some of the functions and found that I could enable webcams everywhere (I looked at the one of the Eiffel Tower and sighed a bit) and that I could enable photos--but not mine. Basically, every photo from everyone popped up. So I unclicked that one.

Overall, I could see this type of thing, like my trusty-ish GPS, becoming a staple for travelers. And I think my dad will LOVE it! I remember sitting with him as a kid with maps in front of us and he would use highlighters to meticulously mark places he'd like to go. This is like that, but so much cooler!

And just in case, here's my map again...

View Wish Trip in a larger map

SLED Event

So I attended an SLED event online--this was an interview/discussion with Kristine Kathryn Rusch, author of Freelancer's Survival Guide. Her book is basically about the sorts of jobs people have today, and the fact that many people are "freelancers" and have their own businesses or telecommute, and how this is very different from the kinds of jobs people had in the past.

She talked about how her father had the same job for his whole adult life, and how people these days won't do that, and many have hybrid jobs where they telecommute sometimes or do freelancing on the side.

This event was held at the Copper Robot theater in World2Worlds. There were seats just like in a regular theater and folks were all chatting while the presentation was going on. I did have to go to an alternate site on the web to stream the audio of the interview/discussion.

This was very interesting. She talked about networking online and in person, and the folks on SL talked a lot about how they would rather just network virtually.

The Copper Robot sat up on the stage the whole time while the interview played. I found the chat more interesting than the actual event, although the event was interesting, too. I jumped in on the chat--they were talking about fiction in the interview, which became teen vampires in the chat--and the folks were very receptive and funny.

Overall, everyone was really nice and easy to talk to. This has inspired me to attend more events like this, as this is a great resource, especially for educators, to find out what's out there.


It was interesting looking at everyone's experiences with the web. Here's my contribution:

I built the web when my cousin (who lives in Utah) got me a Prodigy account back in college (1994) and we chatted online, thrilled with the newness of it. My roommate stood behind me and made contributions, and my cousin's friend joined in the fun as well. I'll never forget his screen name--theman--which, of course, meant "the man," but which we pronounced, "theeman" since we were reading it phonetically.

And by the way, has anyone ever wondered if Google is like Skynet from The Terminator?

Just as an aside to the Prodigy stuff, I also spent some time searching for famous people with Prodigy id's. I did find Brendan Fraser, on whom I had a big crush at the time. I sent him a message, but never got a response...(sigh). This is, obviously, before I had too many responsibilities, since I had free time to look up random people on Prodigy. Ahhh, those were the days...