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.

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.