Final Blog (Blog 12)

This has been a great adventure in Web 2.0 learning!! I have tweeted, used a dashboard, Wikkied, aggregated, blogged and explored YouTube. It has been a whirlwind of technology. By creating a rubric via Wikki Spaces with my class, I evaluated web tools based on accessibility, autonomy, usability, curriculum alignment, learner differentiation, collaboration, engagement and thinking skills. This has been a good measure of evaluation. I personally like the sites that steer away from things that are overly animated or apps with unnecessary sounds. I find these to be distracting and want the students to understand that there is a difference in using technology to learn and using it to play. I think usability is a key part of the rubric we created and encompasses many components of a web tool. I think the down sides of web 2.0 tools for education is there are so many of them. In a class like this, you have discussion boards to brainstorm and share. Schools would benefit from having these types of forums where teachers can share what they are finding and how they support the TEKS or learning targets. Not unlike any other element of education, teacher experience and preparedness with any type of technology will be vital in how effective and beneficial it is for the students. For me personally, this has been a great experience. I am a seasoned teacher, which is a nice way to say older, so technology is not something I grew up with. I had many reservations coming into the class and didn’t particularly like it in the beginning. However, I have found myself sharing technology ideas with other teachers and showing those youngsters some things they didn’t know – awesome!! My comfort level with tools has increased and I am much more likely to just push a button and see how the programs reacts than I would have been previously. I have grown as a teacher and a digital citizen!! This has been a great ride and I will not be getting off the technology train here, this is just the beginning for me!!

Vanity Search II (Blog 11)

When searching my name for the second time, I don’t really see any changes. I have a very common first and last name so many of the items that come up aren’t really me. I searched using various forms of my name, I included my maiden name – Deborah Ousley Thomas and used my previous last name Deborah Kadair Thomas and didn’t really get anything different. I would say if I want to stand out, I should use my name with a different spelling, when I spell Debbie, I use Debye. If I want to blend in, Deborah Thomas does the trick. Because I have several published items, there are several entries for my name so it could be that new entries are getting buried among the others. I thought that the more recent items would come up first but I am not sure about that. So, what I found is that if you have a very common name, it is difficult to see the impact of online activity. Blend in or stand out, the name you choose is important in deciding what you want your digital footprint to be!!

Web 2.0 Personal Professional Development (Blog 10)

Learning possibilities on the Internet are endless. I have been introduced to so many new applications and websites it is both exciting and at moments overwhelming. There are still things to learn. I am a part of a few professional online art teacher groups, which are an amazing resource. It is a great way to share with teachers across the United States. I want to find a librarian and technology group that will offer the same support that I get from my art group. I also want to continue to use Twitter and Protopages and become more efficient in the way I use these platforms. My district has begun offering online technology trainings and my newfound confidence in technology has made me more willing to give them a try. I will also look for ways to implement what I have learned in new or unexpected ways. This is just the beginning of Web 2.0 learning for me. I am excited about the springboard to learning that this class has been for me!!

Adventures in Social Bookmarking (Blog 9)

Adventures in Social Bookmarking I use bookmarks on my computer but had never really heard of Social Bookmarking, which is sharing bookmarks. This one I have to be honest I had a hard time connecting with and I am not sure why. I am able to use the technology, it just seemed overwhelming – lots of articles!! The great thing is you can look at people’s comments and see if and how it may relate to you or your interests. After reading some of my classmate’s posts in our discussion forum, I decided to check out Symbaloo, which a few of them had referenced. For me, I liked Symbaloo and to be honest I think a lot of it was based purely on how the site looks and acts. Shallow?? Maybe, but just like anything that is why it is nice when there is more than one type of anything, you can find the one that really fits your style. I think that is a great thing about technology; it seems to move away from the one size fits all way of thinking. Certainly, in teaching we may have to be open to the idea that when we send students to an app or a site, they are going to know of something that works better for them. So, do you let them customize their learning or insist on them using a specific platform? I think there is a way to do both. If they really don’t like it, have them do a minimal amount trying the way the lesson was presented and if they want to further their learning on a different platform, let them go for it! For me, bookmarking beyond my desktop is a work in progress. I will keep at it, some classmates suggested ways they personalize the information and I am going to give that a try and who know, I may end up feeling like I can’t live without it!!

Adventures in Aggregating Pages (Blog 8)

Whew!!! This one was tough for me!! First of all I wasn’t sure what Aggregating Pages even meant. Well, for anyone that doesn’t know, it is similar to a dashboard. I didn’t even really understand what the purpose was of aggregating pages. Now I understand and have to say I really like it!!

Choosing a platform was a challenge as I misremembered the one my classmates were recommending on our class discussion board and mistakenly went with the more challenging platform. YIKES!! When I got to it, I realized I didn’t have a clue about what I was doing. I switched to Protopage which was much better and to top it off a classmate posted a YouTube video that was the key for me. I started set up my page and adding my personal links and making the space my own. I especially like the added extension feature that makes access to my dashboard effortless. It was fun watching it to come together!! Once I learned how to use the widgets, things started getting much easier! I added my Twitter feed, our class Twitter feed, my YouTube channel and items from my YouTube play list.

I have often wondered how people have the time to manage their social media accounts and keep up with all of their personal interests on the Internet and now I know!! This is a time saving and practical way to group the sites that are important to you in one place. I was frustrated and overwhelmed at first but managed to push through, and let me add my technology push through time is decreasing, and the pay off was worth it. Not only did I learn something I didn’t know, I learned something I can use immediately. I will continue to add and explore and I am looking forward to learning the ins and outs of this Web 2.0 tool!

YouTube Adventure 1 and Twitter Update (Blog 7)

Twitter Adventure continued and YouTube experience. After last week’s Twitter Adventure I decided to jump back into the Twitter arena at school. I have to say, I have really been missing out!! I have my account up and running and with the help of a tech savvy co-worker I have gotten rid of any unwanted followings and followers. In other words, I have cleaned out my Twitter nest!! It is great!! We had a few exciting things going on around the campus that I was not able to attend but felt like I didn’t really miss out due to the Twitter feed. I added some helpful videos to my YouTube playlist, which I did not even know was a possibility, and my Twitter video collection is growing. Like with anything, there are some of the videos that are helpful and some that are not but I feel like I am learning from them either way. One of the YouTube videos I found introduced the idea of building a Personal Learning Network (PLN) and showed how Twitter can be a vital part of creating that network. It was great and brought forth several good points. I had not considered that this allowed me the opportunity to follow and hear from and follow specialists and leaders in the sphere of education. I added to my playlist a collect of Web 2.0 education videos as well. They were great and really helped me wrap my brain around the idea of Web 2.0 and some of what that can encompass. They bring up several good points and validated my notion that there is an endless supply. The challenge is finding platforms that are easy to use and support intended learning targets. The last thing I added to my playlist for my technology class was videos for Wiki Spaces. These were good but some of them were a little dated and I realized that platform had changed but the ideas the teachers had were still good. I used Wiki Spaces in its early stages as a platform for students to share book reviews with each other. It has improved quite a bit since 2010. One of the teachers used Wiki Spaces to lay out her class goals and assignments for each grading period and she felt like it was not only a good platform for the students but it also allowed parents a way to know what was going on and what student responsibilities were concerning various projects. I have used YouTube personally to repair an icemaker, coffee maker and to change a part in my dryer. The possibilities of what you can find on YouTube are endless. I now have a playlist and I am excited about that and was equally as excited that I was able to figure out how to set it up without any direction. I am getting better and feeling more comfortable with web technology!!

A Twitter Adventure (Blog 6)

To Tweet or Not to Tweet, that is my frustration!! I really want to like Twitter and there are things I like about it. However, most of the things I like are as an observer more than a participant. The first Twitter experiences I have had are school related. My former Superintendent and my current principal like for there to be chatter and buzz about what is going on at our campus. I had Twitter set up on my classroom IPAD and I was pretty good about tweeting out pictures of student artwork and what was going on in the art studio at Parkside. We got new computers and our IPADs had to be converted for student use. Well, that changed everything for me. My new computer doesn’t have the ease of taking pictures like my IPAD does and using Twitter from my computer wasn’t the same. I had tried using my phone but we are told not to use our phones in the classroom so I feel like I am doing something I am not suppose to do when I take pictures for Twitter. The next thing that happened I can’t explain. I don’t know if it was because I wasn’t using Twitter but I had to recover my password, as I couldn’t remember it ,and there were all of these people I was following that were not appropriate for school – I did not choose to follow them. From that moment on I just started messaging pictures to my principal and she tweets them out for me. Lame, yes, but it became a frustration that wasn’t worth it for me. Well, here I am in a technology class so what is a girl to do – Tweet!! I set up a new account and jumped in on the action. I have to admit I brought my previous frustrations to the table and there was resistance. Once I got started and saw the conversations I wanted to join in. I feel awkward on social media and it makes me very self-conscious. I followed the class feed and jumped in a few times. I was having a hard time remembering how to follow people and had to just work through it. I watched a pod cast from a conference our professor was a part of and the pod cast was not what I went there to watch, is was Jon Smith, the IPod professor. It was inspirational and kind of gave me a different perspective. I went back to Twitter and followed Jon Smith, a few of my friends to make myself more comfortable and followed a few organizations I like or belong to. It made it more personal. I did not have much luck with the Twitter related apps. I was not able to down load the Hoot Suite and was only able to find a tutorial app for Tweet Deck, I tried on my phone and computer but didn’t have much luck. I downloaded and app for Twitter Gifs called Gif Tweet Downloader, I see people use them on Facebook but I am not sure how they work. The app did not help me at all; I am going to Google it and just figure it out. I have been at conferences and events where Twitter feeds are going on and I usually just watch on a friend’s phone. I know that I am a missing out on thing but none of it comes very easy for me. I get comfortable with what I know and it is hard for me to get myself to branch out. I like Facebook because it seems to wait until I can get to it while Twitter seems to move much faster. I understand the possibilities with Twitter and it is a great way to connect and be a part of something. I guess there is a part of me that would just like for people to have a face-to-face conversation with each other but I do see the value, I just don’t know why it is easier than just having a conversation with someone. I have also always operated from the notion that just because you think it, doesn’t mean you need to say it. I get it, I see the applications in a group or school setting it is just for me social media is just a lot to manage – but I am trying to give it a go – the verdict is still out!!

My Digital Footprint – Blog 5

It has been a while since I have visited my blog and it is nice to be back!!  I am taking a class this semester at TAMC which requires a weekly blog so I will be posting here more often.  The subject of this week’s blog is my “Digital Footprint.”  So what is a digital footprint?  It is the mark you leave on the internet, information you share, websites you visit, a snap shot of how the web sees you.  So, I started my vanity search by entering the name I thought would come up the most which was Deborah Ousley Kadair, there were about 2,200 ish entries for this name.  I have been re-married for 4 years and thought using my current last name, especially since it is a more common name, would yield less results, I was wrong.  When I Googled Deborah Ousley Kadair Thomas, it yielded about 23,000.  I write and illustrate children’s books so the overwhelming majority of the entries were related to books.  I have illustrated books for two authors and materials related to them only comes up with one of the authors being Johnette Downing.  So far no real surprises, that was until I came upon which shows a collection of every picture I have ever posted on Instagram.  I had no idea this was happening and find it a little creepy.  It makes me wonder if I need to revisit the settings on my Instagram account.  The good news is I don’t post very often and I will certainly be cautious and keep this in mind for the future.  The most disturbing in my mind are the Truthfinder, Instant Checkmate, and Spokes which are sites that display legal records.  I think it is troubling how they make it sound like you have a a record.  People taking a glance at what comes up for you name could easily be mislead.  The images that were associated with my search seemed especially random.  There were a few pictures that were me, some of book jackets and the rest I have no idea who they are or what the connection might be.  Same with the videos though there were many fewer.  The map tab would bring someone right to one of my former residences which is fine by me!!  All in all, most of the results were not a surprise.  The Instagram pictures, I had no idea were collected and displayed.  The misleading “Truthfinder” type entries are the things I wish we had the ability to remove, there intent is to make it look like you have done something in order to get interested parties to look at the information.  Investigating my digital footprint was interesting and informative, I think everyone should be aware of how they are presented on the internet.

Blog 4

For this blog I decided to explore some content specific apps and web sites. I chose this option over Information Literacy as I am considering ways that I can include more technology in my classroom. However, I am looking for things that enhance art experience, not replace them. The first app I looked at was Artkive. It wasn’t what I expected it to be. It is an app that allows you to save pictures of your work but mostly, they want you to submit your art and have products made, which of course you have to buy, so as a parent it might have a value but for a teacher, not so much. The second app I explored was MOMA art lab. I liked this app and with my younger grades I do tangrams and this would be a good extension or compliment to these lessons. I do believe it supports the learning and gave the students choices. It would be possible for the students to take the tangrams and try to recreate them on an ipad and there would be valuable practice at working with the prompts and working with the tools the app provides. Another app I explored was called the Art of Origami Kids. This was more of an instructional app but I really liked it. Paper folding can be a struggle for some students and this app gave simple step-by-step directions that can be followed while using origami paper. It was the most interactive and the students would have a product when they finished. Of all the apps I tried, this one was the strongest in supporting the ideas behind TPAC. Students could repeat instructions as needed and each step was isolated and demonstrated clearly. It would be a great compliment to a unit on origami. Another app that I explored was called Fun2Draw Kids. I has step-by-step directions that students can easily follow to complete drawings of characters. The choices are limited and once you go through the first character you have to pay to go on to the others. I thought the format was good and would let students use the app as an instructional tool. The steps were clear and they were easy to follow. Many of the other art apps that I looked at were drawing apps, puzzle apps and there are several apps that are coloring pages. I didn’t feel that these offered the same level of value from the TPAC standpoint as the others. The Museum of Modern Art has great virtual tours and would be a fun way to practice evaluating art “at a museum.” The biggest take a way is that any of the apps in isolation could easily just become a game or a way to occupy students while teachers are doing other things. It is important that technology is used in a way that supports the curriculum. I have to admit the way I saw using this apps was more as an extension than the lesson itself. For the sites and apps that I explored the virtual tours seemed more like lessons than the apps. I will continue to search for ways to integrate technology into the art classroom.

Blog 3

This was the first time I really “enjoyed” the tech play. Not only was I learning but I was having fun using the various apps. There are so many to choose from, deciding on a few was the hard part!

I will start with VOKI. This app has so many possibilities it was great to consider how the students could use it or how I could use it myself. For myself, the students trickle in which would make having a VOKI for them to listen to when they were ready to begin a great way to get everyone started. It would also be great at a station with directions the students could access as needed. From a teacher standpoint, creating video directions doesn’t rank very high on Bloom’s just at the base and on the SAMR model it is more of a substitution however, if the students were going to be using this app it would be a great way to introduce it to students. Then students would at least have some prior knowledge when using it themselves. For student uses, it is a great way to share and deliver information. I was particularly thinking about shy students, this would give them a voice. Augmentation and application are the levels of SAMR and Blooms that students would reach with such types of assignments. It does give students choice in creating an avatar, settings etc.. so I do believe it generates more engagement for students. The back draw to many of the apps was the cost involved. I am sure many of them have pricing for schools and that would have to be a consideration. Similarly, I tried Tellagami which would have similar applications. I didn’t have a preference between the two, I think it would just depend on accessibility. In considering TPAC, it would be a tool that could be used for any content area. For a teacher that is just using technology in their class this would be a great place to start as it would definitely enhance teaching and support student learning.

Another app I used was Comic Life. There are again, endless possibilities. Comic life could be used to create something for almost any content. It would be a great piece of evidence of learning for example a science experiment. Students could snap a picture of each step of the experiment, drop them in the story frame and you would have a great piece for a science journal. It allows a great deal of creativity and it is easy to use. Depending on the usage, this is an activity that could encompass most of Blooms getting you to the create level and would reach the level of modification on the SAMR model. Teachers could also use comic life as a teaching tool for directions, flow charts, any lesson with sequential steps would be a great fit for this format. In comic life the students would have more control of the content and not just choosing bells and whistles. I like comic life, I feel like it is something students would want to print which my district is becoming less a fan of so this would be a great item in an electronic notebook as well. Based on the TPAC I can see this lesson getting you to that “sweet spot” of learning.

Being that my ultimate goal is to land in a library I wanted to investigate a “story creating” type of app. There are several of them. Certainly, Comic Life could be used to create graphic novels or this genre of stories.  I looked at Storybird first. I liked it, I thought the variety of prompts and pictures was great. It was an easy to use format and I thought especially for younger grades there are many possibilities here. I think this is a great introduction for students and in my mind, brings that technology for purpose not for gaming into light and would be a good bridge between the two for young students. Likewise, students that struggle with writing may also be helped along by the prompts this venue provides. The level of complexity would depend on the user, I think it covers all of the grades at an elementary campus. With Blooms even though students are creating something, I would say you are working at the level of application. For the SAMR I would say modification is where you would be hovering. I do think it is a good fit for TPAC but just would depend on the usage but I think it would be an app most teachers would be comfortable with. Storybots was another app I checked out that I thought would have a story application. I think this is a great app for beginners – teachers or students. It is more geared towards younger users and may be something students will have used at home. It may change the purposefulness of an activity if students have “played” with apps at home – just an opinion.

Lastly, I looked at QR codes as this is something I had a previous interest in exploring. There are many ideas and uses to compliment a variety of lessons. Depending on how they are used, you could be using them at a basic knowledge level or at the create and possibly the redefinition level of SAMR. I felt like this app is truly a “tool” as opposed to a platform. The way the students or teacher could use them really enhances learning and seems to be a good bridge between traditional and digital learning.

Overall, I think selecting apps can be overwhelming and you really don’t know how effective they will be without trying them yourself and considering your purpose. There are times I think technology is used for technologies sake and there needs to be thought put into it just like there would be for anything else brought into a classroom. Considering Blooms, SAMR and TPAC feels overwhelming at the moment, but like anything, the more you think about it the more it just becomes a part of your planning.

**I did find some teacher tutorials for various apps, none of the ones I mentioned, but there are many on Pinterest which I had not previously considered as a site to check out for tech ideas.