Usually, once a year, I try to give an online survey (using Survey Monkey) to my sixth graders to get a sense of how they are using technology and how they perceive technology and education. The first seven questions that I posed to my students were itemized and the last two questions were short answers.
Tomorrow, I will share some of the short answer responses, but here are the results from the first seven questions:
I find it interesting that so many consider themselves “advanced” in using technology tools; that video and music are at the heart of how they are using technology (it must be at home); that a good majority of them enjoy writing (yeah!); that so many think the use of the computer as a tool allows them to be a better writer (although I did not define what I meant by “better” so it may be a bit unclear if I am talking about content or proofreading); and that so many want to learn more about interacting with others via technology.
Peace (in unofficial data),
I’ve shared this comic before but the very inept space pioneer Brewster Rockit is running for President and this one just hit me in the right spot this morning:
Peace (can we handle the truth?),
Even though I put my sentence on the VoiceThread for this week (see post down below), I missed seeing it as part of my blog archive, so here it goes:
I got an article published in the local newspaper about my new XO, leading the other newspaper to interview me for their own article on the XO, and my hope is that both articles help advance the ideas of technology and education in the developing world.
Peace (in sentences),
I want to invite you into this week’s Day in a Sentence feature, and I am adding yet another twist to the equation. I have created this very simple VoiceThread and I want to invite you to post your sentence in my VoiceThread.
You can do it as text, as audio, or talking into a webcam. VoiceThread makes this so very easy to do. Here is the link to VoiceThread for the homepage, where you can set up an account in minutes.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://voicethread.com/book.swf?b=37834" width="500" height="600" wmode="transparent" /]
If this is impossible for you, then, by all means, leave your Sentence here as a post, but I really do hope folks will try out VoiceThread.
Peace (in threads),
Ben, over at the Esoterium, had been wondering why there were not more collaborative teaching blogs where many voices from the teaching of English and writing can come together to share knowledge and interact. There are some models of this out there (including Lifehacks, which is how Ben got inspired to think about this idea) in other fields.
Well, Ben is now launching a site called TeachENG.us and he is looking for a wide range of English teacher-bloggers who may want to get involved.
If you are interested, Ben asks that you drop him an email at ben(at)esoterium(dot)com.
Peace (in further collaboration),
Bonnie has released this week’s Day in a Sentence to the world. I tried something a little different this week — taking my podcast and putting it together with some file photos for a video Day in a Sentence.
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It was only after I started looking at and playing with new acoustic guitars that I realized how much of a faithful companion my old guitar has been in the 20 years that I have had it and how many hundreds (yep, hundreds) of songs I have composed on its tender strings.
I am hosting again this week and then it is off to Ben B. for a co-hosting venture the following week (right, Ben?).
Peace (with guitars),
(This has been in the back seat of my blog for a month or so)
Curt Bonk is part of a group doing a research project on YouTube and they are looking for folks to take a survey. You can find more information about their work at Curt’s site (one incentive for folks who take the survey is to get 90-day trial of a survey machine called SurveyShare, which I have not heard of).
They have different categories, but here are the educational videos they have provided as part of their research analysis of why people create, share and comment on the web-based video systems:
. Did You know; Shift Happens – Globalization; Information Age
2. Did You Know 2.0
3. Voices from the New American Schoolhouse (trailer)
4. A Fair(y) Use Tale
5. Pay Attention
6. Wikis in Plain English
7. Video: RSS in Plain English
8. Education in Second Life: Explore the Possibilities
9. The Wire: Education
(I have to include this one — The Wire is on the way out, but not in the DVD world)
[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/XDg4U2jYXgw" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
(But if you want to see a troublesome virtual conversation, follow the comment links to this video on YouTube — this is why schools ban YouTube — racist remarks, profanity and lack of respect for other people)
10. Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005
Peace (in viral videos),
The Flat World is on my mind these days, as I just finished the book by Tom Friedman, and then I came across this trailer for a documentary about the emergence of math and science in China and India and, the concern about lack of these skills in the US, and the future for our children. Friedman makes the same point although he remains optimistic that our creativity and ingenuity will give us a competitive edge. He does warn that the increase in funds and government interest in technology-related fields in India and China, along with a lack of support here, could forebode some shifting of global power in the future.
Friedman calls on the next president to galvanize the country to invest in the future, through technology. We’ll see, won’t we?
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/niU1E3SSTAM" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Education Week also profiled the documentary, which you can order as a DVD from the creators of Two Million Minutes (I did, because this idea of the world getting smaller and more competitive as technology comes into play both excited and worries me as a teacher and a parent).
And then there was the Frontline special this week — Growing Up Online — which I missed but found online via another blogger, Kate — and I have only watched the segment on education and technology/social networking in school environment. It was interesting and seemed fairly balanced between teachers and the pros and cons of using technology as a means of engagement of students. It was kind of depressing that one teacher feels she that is “outmoded” because she does not embrace technology and is not ready to give up the traditional classroom — discussions, reflection, writing.
It is disheartening when one boy says he never reads books anymore and uses only online activity as his “reading,” zipping through sites with summaries (such as Sparknotes). Then, in a moment of reflection, he admits that he is cheating himself (and blames lack of time). Also, the aspect of”collecting friends” in places such as MySpace and Facebook bubbles up and shows it for what is: just another social status tool and not what it should be: creating a sense of interconnected communities.
Peace (in smaller spaces),
I mentioned this ebook site (called WOWIO) the other day as part of my examination of the XO computer as an ereader and each day, the options for new books grows. It is still mostly second-tier books, but they are loaded with interesting graphic novels and comics, and that could appeal to kids (and me). The books are donated by various companies and are free to any US resident who signs up for the service. You get three free books every day and they are downloaded as PDF files.
Here is the book that I downloaded today that had me cracking up:
Yep — a graphic novel bio of The Beatles. I am waiting for the KISS one to come next (just kidding, I think, but I do remember KISS comics when I was a kid)
Peace (in graphic novel form),
Bain News Service, publisher.  [Germany Schaefer, Washington AL (baseball)]
The Library of Congress has now put thousands of photos from its archives up on Flickr for viewing and use by us, the people. This is a treasure trove of materials and I am already thinking of ways to use them in the classroom.
What is interesting is that the folks at the Library of Congress folks (see their blog) are opening up the door in Flickr for comments and tags by people. And they are using the “no known copyright” designation, too, which allows for more use by students, I think. Somebody in that federal office clearly gets it — the photos are going to be viewed and used.
My boys are going to love this: A flickr slideshow of photos of old baseball players.
Peace (in picturing history as it was),