Monthly Archives: February 2010

New inspiration and ways of learning

After receiving a canoe & kayak magazine recently (see image), I became inspired to learn more and explore kayaking further. It’s something I really enjoy doing but don’t have a lot of experience with yet. This past summer I did a ton of kayaking and really got hooked.

To further my knowledge and learn more, I did a few things that I now tend to do whenever I’m learning about something new.

  1. Went on google – to explore possible kayak adventures for the summer
  2. Went on Twitter – began following kayak lists and #hashtags
  3. Went on Youtube and Vimeo – to discover great videos and tutorials
  4. Went on delicious – to search for online resources that others had tagged

This is typically how I learn about new things whether it is education related or just for my personal interest and exploring things I am passionate about. I talked about this recently when I taught an online micro-lesson in my ECMP 455 course. These web tools are great not only for educational purposes but also for personal use and exploring things you are interested in. I feel like in a very short amount of time I was able to gain some valuable kayaking knowledge and began to make some connections with others who share this interest.

I’m interested in knowing how others learn about things they have a passion for.

Do you use various web 2.0 tools for exploring your passion? What type of steps do you take when learning about something new?

Below I have included a short clip of me kayaking this past summer. It is unedited and not the greatest quality but it is a start. Next summer I hope to start making some great kayaking videos like many of the ones I have discovered. I’m considering purchasing an underwater case for my iPod nano which has a video camera. I get excited just thinking about the possiblities…

Tools I am exploring this month…

This month I am specifically spending a lot of time exploring a couple of tech tools in preparation for an online lesson I will be teaching in my ECMP 455 class. The tools I have chosen are Google Wave and Prezi. While I have briefly used each of these tools before, I plan to gain a better understanding of how to use them effectively both in and out of the classroom. Specifically, with Prezi I want to look at how to make an effective presentation as there are so many more options in Prezi than there are in tools such as powerpoint. With Google Wave I want to see what exactly it can do, if there is a practical use for it in teaching and learning or if it is just an over-hyped web tool.

Below is a video which gives a brief introduction to the idea of Google Wave…

As I continue to explore I would like to connect with people who are currently using Google Wave as it seems most of my contacts have signed up but are not active. My username is mcfarljo@googlewave.com so feel free to add me or leave your username in the contacts section. Also, feel free to direct me towards any well done Prezi presentations that you have discovered or created.

Spreading the word: My recent presentation to 3rd year Ed students

Yesterday I gave one of my first (legitimate?) edtech presentations. I was asked to come and speak to the EPS 350 class at the University of Regina by one of my former instructors. This class consists of 3rd year secondary education students who are about to head into their 3 week field experience. The objective for my presentation was to give the students an introduction to teaching and learning with technology. I wanted to do this through introducing various tools for professional development and also things that can be used with a class. I talked mainly about E-portfolios/blogfolios, social bookmarking, and trying to create a “PLN“. There was a bunch of other things that I wanted to talk about including Google Apps for educators, Prezi, Jing etc. but 50 minutes just wasn’t enough time for me to cover that much stuff.

Overall I thought the presentation went well but I feel I could have made it more exciting and engaging. I spent a bit more time on e-portfolios than I wanted to, but they are creating portfolios in the class so I felt obligated to offer a lot of info there. Some things I would do to improve the presentation would be to have asked more questions and received some feedback from the class about what they already know or don’t know and what they want to know.

If you had 50 minutes to speak to a class of 3rd year education students what would you do? Which tools would you present to them? What ideas or thoughts would you discuss? What things would you do to make it engaging and interesting?

*Take a look at the brief outline of the presentation I gave.

Reflective Blogging

I have found reflecting through blogging to be an excellent practice. During my 3 week pre-internship at a local high school last year, I wrote a reflective blog post every day. That reflective post allows you to look back at your experience and evaluate what went well, what didn’t work, and ways you might improve your lesson or experience. You can look through my pre-internship category of posts to see all of my reflections. While it was time consuming, I felt it was very effective as I can now come back to it at anytime if I am teaching those same lessons or classes again in the future. During my internship this year I chose not to write reflective blog posts but rather post short reflections on twitter. This did not work quite as well as I didn’t really look back or put a lot of thought into the tweets.

Overall I would suggest blogging as the best  form of reflection. Sharing your thoughts and experiences with others can allow for you to see different perspectives or new ideas via comments and links. Ideally I think it would be realistic to blog about once a week as an educator. When teaching full-time it seems as though a daily blog is highly unrealistic for most including myself.

Reflective blogging is a great form of personal and professional development. It can be a key contributor to improving ones teaching and learning practices.

What are your thoughts? Is reflective blogging realistic when teaching full-time? Is there a line to draw between personal reflections and educational reflections?

Aside from being used by educators as a form of professional development, blogging in the classroom can help students become networked learners as shown below.