Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Experience as an Expert Advisor


Recently, I have had the opportunity to sign up to be an expert advisor for a Flat Classroom Project. So far, I have created my own ning and choose to be the expert advisor for a group of students who are exploring Virtual Communication. Today I was able to read the research, look at the links, and watch the videos students in this group have posted. I found it to be very interesting. I also saw myself wanting to read more about each topic of virtual communication. I made notes as I read such as: Could you link this to a resource? What are examples of teachers using virtual communication in their classrooms? Could the use of avatars meeting in a virtual world support your section?

 Once I read through the wiki, I found the students who were in charge of each section. I created a new post in the discussion tab for each group. I was able to offer articles, websites, and other suggestions to each group that will hopefully make their sections stronger.

To be honest, I was a little leery starting this project and getting involved as an expert advisor. After reading and posting suggestions, I really enjoyed it. I felt like I was contributing valuable information to the groups that would help them accomplish their goal for their sections. I am excited to see if they used any of my suggestions to make their wiki stronger.

I am interested to know your experience with The Flat Classroom Project if you have had one or your thoughts on the project. Do you think it will lead to move student engagement, motivation, and academic success?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Assistive Technology

No Child Left Behind has increased the time students with special needs are included into the general education classroom. Some general education teachers embrace this initiative whereas others fear this change. What do general education teachers need to know to effectively educate all students in their classrooms?

With the push for increased technology use, teachers can meet all their students' need by using multiple technologies. Many students with special needs have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that may specify assistive technologies that can benefit the student in and outside the classroom. Assistive technologies can be used for communication, manipulation, mobility, and learning depending on the child's needs.

Many teachers are exploring ways to use technologies such as iPods, iPads, and other software programs such as Kurzweil and Dragon Naturally Speaking to increase the amount to time students with special needs are included into the general education classroom. The more teachers become familiar with Web 2.0 tools and newer technologies, I believe the "fear" they once felt with having students with special needs in their classrooms will slowly disappear.

What are your thoughts and experiences with inclusion? How have you seen technology used to increase the participation of students with special needs into the general education classroom?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Are online tests student centered?

At the university I teach, we have a learning managment system that allows us to create online tests for the content we teach. I administered a multiple choice/short answer midterm using this online component. As an instructor I loved it! The multiple choice questions were instantly graded, but I had to manually grade the short answer questions. The system allowed me to conduct an item analysis to determine the most frequently missed questions and the response. I thought it was great. . .

When I asked students about the experience, they were not as thrilled as I was. Granted, the technology didn't necessarily cooperate that day we took the midterm as it kicked students out of the test. It did save their answers so nothing was lost; it was just a nuisance.The students didn't mind the multiple choice questions; however, the short answer questions didn't provide enough space for them to write. Some students preferred to have written everything out given a paper and pencil. I was shocked. I thought for sure this 'net generation' would prefer to take a computerized test which allowed them to read the questions from a screen and type (instead of hand write) their responses.

What is an instructor supposed to do? I felt I was meeting my students' needs, but in the end, I was only meeting some of their needs. I'm curious to know your thoughts/experiences. I look forward to hearing your thoughts regarding online testing. What the pros/cons? Does it meet students' needs or not?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Cost Effective Interactive Whiteboards

 At a recent conference I attended, there was a vendor representing Kurzweil software. He presented his information using the wall as an interactive whiteboard. I was a little fascinated. Since we are always looking for ways to save money in education, I asked him what I would need to do what he just showed. This is what he gave me:


Here is how to have a Wii Remote Interactive Classroom
Below is the information you need to use a Wii Remote and Infrared pen to create an interactive classroom.
1. You need an LCD projector and a screen, or wall on which to project
2. You need a computer that  is Bluetooth enabled.
3. It is best to have  software that lends itself to interactive work – like Kurzweil & Classroom  Suite!  :)
4. You need a Wii Remote/Controller  (you can get these at Best Buy, Radio Shack, etc..; you may already have your  own at home!) 
5. I have used two different infrared pens ($8.00:  https://mail.uiu.edu/owa/redir.aspx?C=530e83e92df84d17868cd16ae5da1ab1&URL=http%3a%2f%2fpenteractive.us%2f%3fgclid%3dCKzTkIvQm50CFado5QodsCA53A; and $29.95 from https://mail.uiu.edu/owa/redir.aspx?C=530e83e92df84d17868cd16ae5da1ab1&URL=http%3a%2f%2firpensonline.com%2f)
6. I also purchased the  mini tripod with the cover mount (another $20) - very helpful in stabilizing the Wii Remote.  There are also ceiling mounts.
7. Finally, you will need to download the
free software from Johnny Lee.  Half way down the page, on the right column you will find the downloads  (Windows and/or Mac)

 Here is the link for the Youtube video of
Johnny Lee demonstrating his software.

Have you experimented with this cost effective way to create an interactive whiteboard? What are your thoughts? Would this encourage more active learning from our students? I'm definitely interested in purchasing the equipment needed and would like to know your thoughts.