Monthly Archives: March 2010

Riding the wave…

This post is about Google Wave and some of the exploration and research I’ve been doing on it over the semester. I initially joined Google Wave on October 17, 2009. There was a lot of hype about it on twitter and I thought it would be great to be one of the first groups of people to try it out. At first it didn’t live up to the hype as none of my contacts really stuck with it and I basically just had a few solo waves going. That all changed when i discovered the public waves and saw just how powerful this tool can be. Now I can really see that there are some great uses for it. I’ve joined some public waves and recently created a wave for physical educators and I’m also working on a wave for business educators. Below you can see the slides for the online lesson on Google Wave I am teaching  in my ECMP 455 class tonight. I have also attached links to some useful resources. I’m always looking to connect with more people on Google Wave so feel free to add me [mcfarljo@googlewave.com] or ask me for an invite. Also, let me know your thoughts in terms of Google Wave in education.

Google Wave 101 – Your one stop shop for all the Google Wave basics.

Google Wave Robots – A list of 100 robots in Google Wave.

How Google Wave can Change Education – Ideas for educational use of Google Wave.

The Most Important Wave Search – Showing you how to discover public waves.

My Google Wave Bookmarks – Everything I have bookmarked related to Google Wave.

Interview with Chris Betcher

Recently I had the opportunity to conduct a skype interview with Australian educator and technology integrator Chris Betcher. Before the interview I had the opportunity to do some research on Chris by checking his blog and taking a look at his tweets. Chris has done some great things and after conducting the interview I got to see how great of a guy he is as well. It’s always nice when current educators take the time to help out those who are about to enter the profession. During the interview I asked Chris questions about educational technology in general, edtech in the future, cellphones in the classroom etc. The video below is not the entire interview but rather a summary including some key points and stories. The video is not the greatest quality right now so I may upload a higher quality video in the near future but nonetheless it has some great content. This interview is a great example of the power of using things like skype and how easy it can be to bring experts into your class from around the world.

Check out the video below and feel free to comment with your thoughts on some of the topics discussed.

Experiencing the Olympics

Earlier this year, in late February to be exact, I was fortunate enough to be in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. I was very lucky as it just so happened that my basketball team, the University of Regina Cougars were in Vancouver for a Canada West basketball playoff series against the Simon Fraser University Clan. Unfortunately we lost the playoff series 2 games to 1. One positive thing is that we were able to experience the atmosphere of the Olympics in downtown Vancouver. Below I have included a video I shot with my iPod Nano. The video and audio quality isn’t great and the camera work is sub par but I hope that it will give you a sense of what the energy was like. I have attempted to make it into a bit of a digital story, focusing on the culture, excitement, and celebration.

I tried to take a look at the Olympics from an educational lense and thought of how amazing it would be to have a class there and experience it on some sort of field trip (most likely local schools). The olympics can relate to so many different subject areas. Here is a great resource for bringing the Olympics into the classroom. This tweet from my instructor Dean Shareski makes a connection between an Olympic sport and science. What connections do you see that can be made between the Olympics and curriculum? Now that the Olympics are over, what other major athletic events do you see having the opportunity to promote learning? I know that here in Regina, Saskatchewan anything involving the Saskatchewan Roughriders has a tendency to engage almost anyone. I also look at March Madness, the NCAA men’s basketball championship that is just starting and think how it might relate.

Facebook and Cell Phones

During my internship this past semester two of the biggest “issues” that teachers seemed to be facing were facebook and cell phones. Students would often go on facebook during class if they were at a computer and many teachers complained of continually catching students text messaging on their phones in class. By the end of the semester facebook had been blocked on all student computers but cell phones were still an “issue”.

I’ve been reflecting on this for some time and recently in my ECMP 455 class we had a guest presentation from Liz Kolb, author of Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education. View her slides here. She presented some great information and statistics which got me thinking a bit more about my stance on the issue. While I was teaching I wanted to find a way to include cell phones in my teaching and take advantage of the great tool that they are. It’s no secret that they are a very powerful tool and I felt I needed to find a way to use them not ban them. I included them in one of my Entrepreneurship 30 lessons which you can view at the bottom of this post.here (some attachments not included). I thought it went well but I believe that cell phones are a tool that may be hard to use every class, rather there needs to be a balance of their use. If they are not being used in the classroom, I’ve heard of a few different strategies for minimizing their distraction including a basket at the front of the room or holding on to them until the end of class if they are used inappropriately. I also don’t mind the idea of teaching etiquette and getting students to understand when it is rude to use your phone and also when it is appropriate to check it. I think it’s all personal preference and depends a lot on the school and students.

The thing that I am most interested in is discovering ways to use them to enhance learning in an educational setting. Liz mentioned quite a few different resources during her presentation including SCVNGR and ipadio which can be used to promote learning in different ways. I also wonder about using cell phones in physical education classes? How might one go about doing that? After doing some searching, I came across some great stuff at this Australian PE teacher’s blog.

Lastly, I want to touch back on the facebook topic that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I’m just curious as to how many schools or school divisions are blocking facebook. Is facebook available at your school? Do you think it can be useful in education?

I’m going to end this post by posing a few more questions to readers whom I would encourage to answer and discuss in the comments.

In what ways do you use or would you like to use cell phones in your classroom or school? Do you believe it helps promote learning?

Can cell phones be used in class or do they become to much of a distraction?

Below you can see a copy of Entrepreneurship lesson which included a cell phone activity.