Monday, August 4, 2008

Journal #6: Story of My (Second) Life

Trotter, Andrew (2008, June, 18). Educators get a 'Second Life'. Education Week, 27, Retrieved August 4, 2008, from

There is a "thriving educational community" now residing in the virtual world known as Second Life. Student and teachers, represented by their digital avatars, can interact and participate in real time in a wide range of activities including building a working volcano, experimenting in virtual science labs and speaking to students in countries around the world. There has been a marketing push by the company that owns second life to introduce the 3-D world in schools, and they offer a 50% discount on user fees for educators. ISTE, the International Society for Technology in Education, even has it's own "island" in this virtual world.

Much of the educational content on Second Life is visually impressive and educational, such as service projects raising money for Dar fur and other causes, filmaking using virtual locations, sets and student written scripts, 3-D construction projects in current or historical settings, and building virtual avalanches for science class.

Q: What are the potential problems of using Second Life in the classroom?
A: While a lot of educators see true educational potential in the use of Second Life, there are dissenters who cite problems such as the cost, the difficulty of mastering the less than user-friendly technology of the site, privacy and Internet safety issues for students, lack of video processing capability on most school computers to handle the application and the often X-rated content of Second Life's adult-only section.

Q: What is a responsible way to incorporate the use of Second Life in a classroom setting?
A: I think this could be a valuable educational tool, but would need to be used under strict supervision in the classroom given the unregulated nature of the Second Life world. One way that some schools have found to do this is to create private "estates" used by the students and teachers in a district. Better yet would be a version of Second Life specifically intended for use in schools that is free of the adult content and completely educational in nature.

Journal #5 Tech Goes Green

Bray, B (2008, August, 1). Professional Development Goes Green. educator's eZine, Retrieved August 4, 2008, from

This article from TechLearning explores the ways in which we can use technology to incorporate activities into the classroom that teach students about protecting the Earth. One example given is a school in Wisconsin that used a biomonitoring activity where they monitored milkweed plants to determine the amount of damage caused by ozone and the amount of pollution in the air and water in their area. The students shared their data and conclusions with schools around the country to encourage more students to participate in green activities and become more environmentally conscious.

I think this article presents some creative ways to use technology in science and environmental awareness activities. It is clear that technology can be integrated into any area of study and can easily be embedded in the curriculum.

Q: What are some other ways technology can be incorporated into environmental projects and science lessons?
A: Another possible activity outlined in the article is to utilize The Carbon Calculator at where students and teachers can calculate their carbon footprints.
Q: Other than biomonitoring, what other technologies could be incorporated into this same project?
A: The class could use the information to collaboratively create graphs, posters, PSA's and an action plan which could be shared online with other schools.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Journal #4: Social Networking

Social Networking is using a service to build a community of friends, coworkers or others with the same interests, to interact, communicate and share information. For example, the most popular social network sites include Facebook and My Space. Ning is a tool that allows you to create your own social networking site and can be used by school administrators to set up a site for teachers at the same school or in the same school district.

Most of the discussions on Classroom 2.0 were about what kinds of incentives would encourage teachers to use the networking site and about what kind of content should be posted on the site. Suggestions for inspiring teachers to use social networking included providing content that could only be accessed by teachers that joined the site and having a "hot topic" of the week with forums set up for members to discuss the issues. One suggestion was to send regular emails to teachers that did not join to tell them what they were missing on the site.

Social networking Ning sites provide a forum for teachers to pool their experience, make connections, discuss curriculum issues and solve problems. It can be a valuable resource for teachers to participate in productive discussion and to facilitate improvements at their school.

Q: What about teachers that are not comfortable using new technology?
A: One administrator said that technophobic teachers were being assisted by students who could show them how to log into and post content on the site.
Q: What kind of content should the Ning site include?
A: As far as content, the Ning sites could include teacher resources, professional development ideas, social event postings, articles related to education and links to sites related to teaching and education as well as social posting to colleagues within the school or district.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008