Friday, March 25, 2011

FREE SOFTWARE!!! Open Source Rocks!

There is nothing sweeter than the words "free" to a teacher.  Often times there is so much we want to do but we do not have the funds to do so.  That's why when first reading about Open Source, I was pretty excited to see the software it has to offer!  I quickly learned that Audacity is an open source software, which is an excellent tool when creating podcasts and song editing.  I have used Audacity before when I had students create podcasts and it was easy tool for high schoolers to use.  Even better some of my students were able to download the software on their Macs and finish their projects at home.  Audacity is just one of the hundreds of thousands programs out there that are free for teachers and students.

As I explored and looked for a program that I would use my classroom.  I was really in awe of the Gimpshop.  Since I took a multimedia class and used photoshop, I have been searching for a cheap version of photoshop instead of spending hundreds of dollars on the programs (and that's with student/teacher discount!).  So when I saw a very similar program for FREE with good reviews, I just had to have it.  A program like Gimpshop can be used in any classroom and provides students with creativity they can use to explain on their learning. They can create collages and fun images to enhance presentation or for projects.  If they are learning about a country, they can take multiple images and make a collage on Gimpshop.  On a side note there is nothing wrong with Adobe Photoshop, except for it's cost, since you have to buy individual software licenses for each computer that uses the program.  That can be very pricey! 

Unfortunetly, I am having a hard time downloading it onto my Mac.  Does anyone have any suggestions?  It keeps coming up as an error after downloading it and putting into my application folder.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Can Personal Learning Environments be the Future of Education?

This week we are learning about Personal Learning Environments (PLE).  As we learned in class it "is a web space that is designed by the user to assist in collecting, filtering, and organizing information." PLE are completely new to me and for most educators out there.  When I was watching the video of the 7th grade student showing her PLE and read through the example of a PLE social studies classroom, I had chills run down my body!  This is exactly what I dream my classroom will look like.  For every student to have their own personal computer, where there is not a dependence on textbooks, and students are creating their own learning.  It's beautiful!! But I am skeptical and I wonder can this really work?  Can every student have their own personal laptop? Will the school budget allow it? Will students remember to bring in their laptop?  Will all students benefit from this kind of learning?  Does this fall into NYS curriculum standards?

I have so many questions!  So I looked through all of Dr. Mohamed Amine Chatti's links for PLE ranging from 2006 to 2010. Most of the links were about explaining how PLE works and compare it to older models.  One blog that particularly stood out to me was Tom Haskin's blog Growing Changing Learning Creating.  He has many posts about PLEs and is very passionate about the subject.  In his post "If This is Your First PLE" he gave me great insight into starting a PLE using RSS. At one point when discussing about student feelings about their project, he states, "The thing you're learning has to be your baby, not somebody else's that you're babysitting."  That is an excellent point!  You often lose student's interest when they if they are just doing an assignment just complete it or get a grade.  However if students are actively engaged in a topic, that it is personal to them, then students are more likely going to care what they are learning.  

Haskin blog helped give me a better sense of how PLEs can easily work in the classroom and has inspired me to try something like that in my future classroom.  However, I still have my questions and some doubts since most of the posts addressed different topics.  I would love for this to work and I believe it will in the future, but there are a lot more hurdles in educational technology to jump over before this can happen.  What are your thoughts?  Can this happen in our near future...say the next couple of years?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Paperless Schools?! Is it Possible?

Hi everyone! This week I discovered  Now I have heard of Edutopia before, but now as an Edu Tech student I can relate more to the content and understand how important digital literacy is.  I am now obsessed with their blogs, teaching materials and strategies and video.  As I was scrolling through the blogs, I came across Ben Johnson’s post called “Paper and Pencil Curriculum: How Much Do You Rely on It?  He reminded how depended schools are on paper and revealed how much money could be saved if schools went paperless.  It is definitely a topic worth thinking about.  How much paper do you use in a day?  What are some paperless activities do you do with you students? Do you think is it possible to have a paperless school?  Read the blog post and let me know what you think!

You should all check out the website if have not before and create an account!