Random Thoughts

Vacation, Class, Collaboration

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I’ve been back from NECC for a couple of days and back into the Mariners having gone to their last two games of the home stand the last couple of days.

Plymouth State UniversityI’ve been taking it easy this week before my graduate course starts next week for Plymouth State University. It’s my first time teaching a graduate level course and I’m a little nerves. It’s great to have a network though as I found out that Dean Shareski is teaching a course for the first time this summer as well, so we’ve been doing some planning and trying to come up with a way for our two classes to collaborate on a project. Dean’s class is an undergraduate course and we thought it would be great to get these soon-to-be-teachers collaborating with experienced teachers from my graduate course. We’re using a Google Doc to create the assessment which should be fun. Our goal is to show our students the collaborative nature of this new web, by creating a collaborate project. Of course Dean and I are collaborating setting it up, but it seems natural, to me at least, to be doing such a project and that’s what I hope my students learn. That collaborating over long distances is easy once you know the tools exist and what each of the tools do.

The main assessment for the students will be a minimum 20 entry blog that they will set up the first week and continue to post on through out the course. Instead of a term paper or something along those lines I wanted them to A) Show them the power of these new tools and B) Give them something that is more than a term paper that gets stored in a filing cabinet. This “Paper” will be open, searchable, and accessible by them for years to come (that’s my thought anyway).

So I’ve been working on that, and relaxing (that’s what you are suppose to do on vacation right?).

I did order a Samson CO3U Microphone that I’m excited to use for this class as I record podcasts to introduce students to each week’s assignments. I’m using two text for the course. Will Richardson’s Blog, Wikis, Podcasts…  and George Siemens’ Knowing Knowledge. Two great books that I think speak to both the theory behind these tools and the practical use of them in the classroom.

As soon as the students have their blogs set up I’ll be sure to post them here just in case you want to follow along and help them understand the power of this new web. 🙂


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I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. Hi Jeff,

    thanks for sharing how you are going to set your class up. What blogging platform are you going to use? Are you going to incorporate docs/spreadsheets into the mix, other than your own planning? Social bookmarks?

    I’m in the middle of figuring out how I’m going to deliver my Digital Media curriculum in the fall for eighth graders. Because the kids are younger, I may not be able to give them total freedom. I’ve considered having them set up their own Google account but that really pushes the envelope of what our school and parent community might tolerate in terms of access.

    But I do want them seeing the tools and how they could be used not only in my class but as a continuing learning skill. I just need to find that balance. I would LOVE to have a one-on-one chat with you sometime to discuss web 2.0 classroom management. Thanks again for the insight.

    John Maklary

  2. A bunch of people have been participating with a summer class run by Cyndi Danner-Kuhn http://dannerkuhntecs290summer07.ning.com/

    The Ning platform was nice for the organized discussions between “teachers from the trenches” she recruited from Classroom 2.0 (also Ning) and her class.

    I think it was a good example of using a social networking site for ongoing discussions that were open to interested parties from around the world plus blogs for personal practice.

  3. Wow, what an exciting development for you. In my experience, universities and university students are less eager to adopt 2.0 technologies, so it’s wonderful that you’re there to spread the word!

  4. Jeff,
    I’ve been saying from Day 1 that we need to be educating educators on 2.0 tools before they enter the classroom. Your adult students will be fortunate to have your knowledge and experience on which to draw. They will also have the safety of your classroom as a testing ground before they attempt to take what they’ve learning to a bigger world. It’s the same type of environment we try to offer to our students. I can’t wait to read what they’re learning.

  5. Elizabeth Helfant Reply

    I think your course sounds interesting.
    We are trying to work on sharing and using online tools for our faculty as a whole and are using elgg with the presentation module built in to create a profesional development/portfolio social network for our faculty. Faculty will be expected to blog occasionally about things they are doing in their classroom that pertain to what they have learned from reading Whole New Mind, Understanding by Design, Best Practices, and Classroom Instruction that Works. We are hoping to have them emphasize what they do with technology so that it becomes something of an Individual Tech Growth Plan for Faculty. (We were lucky to have John Bruer, John Bransford and Jay McTighe interact with us for one afternoon so we think we have an initial blog posting prompt that most faculty will feel ok posting about to kick this off.
    The Elgg site will also include some self assessment pieces that we built using zoho creator.
    We are also using Ning for our summer reading discussion site for the entire Upper School and for a couple of classes that like to have kids blog, discuss, submit photos attached to the map (a really cool tool in ning).

    I actually just finished setting up a Ning site for the 9th grade World History Course for next year. The first 2 weeks will be spent talking about river valley civilizations and interpretations about what is important and sacred to civilizations. We are using Indiana Jones excerts, playing the game Civilization IV, reading “The Laughing Sutra”, blogging our thoughts and finding images to attach to the Ning map and concluding the unit with a visit to Cahokia Mounds where we think we will create a podcast tour attached to Mapwing or do a Google Earth river valley tour as a concluding project. Didn’t mean to digress but as long as I did any ideas?
    Maybe your kids would chat with us when we do our China unit in late October? We are planning on doing a project on technological innovation in China (historical perspective) that they hope to share with Middle School.. Perhaps your kids could be long distance reviewers for us..just a thought..

    But back to the point, both Ning and Elgg allow a “walled garden” approach and give you the social network piece and allow you to play with a fair amount of web 2.0 technology.

    That said, I’d love to follow what you do in your class. THere is so much potential with these tools…they allow us to really interact and learn for learnings sake.

    For our student blogs we are using WordPressMU….moving over from Lifetype… I’m pretty sure I recall getting this from your site….so thanks for that!

  6. Pingback: Ideas and Thoughts from an EdTech » Blog Archive » Reflections on my first online class

  7. Jeff, If you’re looking to “show our students the collaborative nature of this new web”, you’re welcome to bring them to openhistoryproject.org. We’re always looking for contribution and collaboration, either at the examples section, or the sharethestories.org (student/teacher guide) section.

    Of course, even if they don’t contribute, there are some cool examples of how others work together.


  8. Hi Jeff:

    I too, am working on a graduate class for the University of Southern Maine this summer. It’s one week starting July 23rd called the Read/Write Web in the Classroom. I am using Will’s book and I think I will look into George’s book as well. Thanks for the tip. I ask the “students” to keep a blog and I steer them to articles and various readings. I also require a collaborative project as a final assessment. The problem is we only have a week to complete the class. Here is the link to last year’s course if you are interested: http://fc.yarmouth.k12.me.us/~alice_barr/USM2006/home.htm I would love to see what you’re up to as well. If you’re interested in any kind of collaboration with graduate level folks, I am game

  9. Hi Jeff…

    Was great to hang with all you guys in the bloggers cafe at NECC…what a blast!

    Last year I was invited to instruct two consecutive courses in ICT for undergrad education students at the University of New Brunswick. Most of my students were at distance learning sites around our province. I used Polycom for an audio-visual link and SMART Technologies Bridgit software to screen share resources…

    It was a blast! Most of the participants were mature students with little background in technology, let alone web 2.0. When I told them on day 1 they would each develop and maintain their own reflective blog, they were a bit freaked. However, once they saw the power in the web, they quickly gained perspective in how the web could be used in their future classrooms. Some of them continue to blog even though the course is long since finished.

    Despite the fact that UNB uses WebCT and Blackboard, I elected to model more accessible resources for them and set the who class up on a wikispace. They loved it!

    The students asked me to keep the wiki up so they can continue to refer to it…You can check out our class wiki at http://ed3862.wikispaces.com …you can even link to their personal reflective blogs…


  10. As the coordinator of the program that Jeff teaches in, I am very happy to see all of this positive feedback. Keep it up, Jeff. Our students are lucky to be exposed to your expertise and energy. RLR

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