Playing with Vokis

I know it has been a while since I posted- sorry! I decided to have a little break to recharge my online batteries.

I was asked by another teacher to show her how Voki works as she wanted her languages class to create Voki’s. The process is really easy and here is a Youtube video from Teacher tube to show you how it works

 

and here is my first experimental voki using a Japanese voice

Leaving del.icio.us

Delicious. com has just undergone a complete redesign in its interface and the one thing that has really infuriated me is that the change has broken all my tag bundles. I have been a member of delicious since 2008 and I have carefully constructed my bundles to group my ‘links’ together to make life easier.

I had a go at making ‘stacks’ and while it is a relatively straight forward activity, it does not organise the tages into groups down the side of the page like the bundles did.

So I am leaving delicious and I am going to give diggo a go since it is not blocked to students and I like the sound of highlighting and annotating bookmarks. If it works out I will be able to demonstrate diggo to students and encourage them to use social bookmarking to organise their learning.

Finally settling on a host for my pathfinder assignment

Ever since I heard and read about the Pathfinder assignment for ETL 501- Information Environment, I have been scratching my head as to what online ‘host site’ would be the most appropriate, the easiest to use and the most visually interesting. I have finally settled on Yola but below I have evaluated a couple of different sites and what I thought of them.

 

Yola- www.yola.com

Free to join and a good range of free design templates to play with. What I really like about the templates is that I can use my photoshop skills to design the banner across the top of the page.

Adding content to the page is very simple. You select a ‘container’ from the list on the right of the page and drop the container onto the page where you want it. There are ‘containers’ for text, video, images, gadgets and widgets. I really like the ability to put in custom embed code so it can accomodate widgets that are not part of it’s gallery. Another advantage is that the site stays private until I send it live but that is also a disadvantage in that I can’t share a draft of the site with colleagues so that I can collaborate with them or get their input into improving the site.

What I don’t like about the site is that you can’t change page fonts and colours. This caused an issue when I uploaded my custom banner and you could not read the name of the page because it was white. It really needs to allow the designer to choose from a small range of web friendly colours.

Wikispaces- www.wikispaces.com

I spent a lot of time this past week playing with wikispaces for a workshop I was facilitating and discovered that the site does allow you to add embedded widgets such as shelfari. You do get more editing ability with the fonts but unless you have the right kind of subscription and a knowledge of CSS scripting with wikispaces you can’t customise the background templates.

Googlesites-  www.sites.google.com

Google sites is very similar to Yola in that the user can drag and drop content ‘containers’ onto a website template. It also has similar abilities in the way widgets and gadgets can be embedded. The reason why I did not persue my use of google sites was that I wanted to develop a pathfinder that was not blocked by the government web filtering service and also end up with an easy to type URL for students.

Reflecting on the group assignment so far…

I am trying to be optimistc and positive about this group assignment as being negative doesn’t achieve anything except increase stress.

What is working (at the moment)…

1. The design of the PowerPoint is fantastic- I am very proud of it.

2. The two missing group members are back online and trying to contribute.

What needs to be worked on to make it better:

1. We need a logical structure to focus our writing.

2. We need to assign Jobs to everyone so that the work is broken up once we have a structure. (We should have done this at the very beginning.)

3. We need clearer guidelines from the lecturer about what our PowerPoint should look like ie structure, word count etc.

In my reading and research I did come across Lencioni’s 5 dysfunctions of a team. Our group is experiencing every one of the dysfunctions.

Here is a summary

 
I have just been reading an interesting article on conflict resolution which might come in handy : Mackay, H. (1998). Resolving conflict through listening. In The good listener: better relationships through better communication (pp.189-199). Sydney : Pan Macmillan.

It is 5 days to the next Skype conference. Here’s hoping that we can get it all together….

I still want this assignment to be over….

 

Miss H.

When 4 becomes 2…

This is the original image for the presentation's background

The last few days have been very frustrating. Since our Skype meeting 2 of the members of my group have stopped contributing anything to the group wiki. One has been sick but she promised to upload her contribution before the end of the weekend and the other is not responding via emails at all. I will have to try and ring him from work tomorrow. If there have been problems then, in my opinion the considerate thing to do is ring or email and say I have a sick child, so that the rest of the group is aware that the person will be offline for a few days.

Now all the work has been left to the 2 of us. Fortunately I have been teamed with someone who is very gifted at reading copious amounts of information, making sense of it and is very generous in sharing his analysis with me. I have been trying to contribute my readings as well as designing a fabulous powerpoint template for the assignment. If I do say so myself- it is the best one I have ever created. I bought a photo of an exploding brick wall and manipulated it in Photoshop. Between the 2 of us remaining members of the group, we have chosen the colours of red, white and black as the key colours of the presentation.

At this point- I don’t care about our missing group members. I am working to get the best possible mark for my pair and I. My pair and I have decided that when we get to the next Skype meeting and the other 2 show up- they can’t make changes unless they contribute this week.

To make matters worse- the lecture has failed to provide standards referenced frameworks for this assignment. In class, all teachers are expected to demonstrate examples of each marking band ie what does an A look like? If this was an assignment in high school- it would be challenged by the assessment committees for the contradictory instructions and lack of standards referenced frameworks.

I so want this assignment to be over… NOW!

 

 

Working collaboratively via Skype on assignments…

I have just experienced my first group conference call on Skype to work on the proposal for the group work assignment. I am glad I bought the group conferencing ability because it meant that I could talk to all of the group at the same time and they could talk to each other. We had problems with the video in that 1 person could not get it working, 1 person’s video froze and the other member of the group worked just fine.

At times, I wished we had a virtual conch so that we know who was meant to be talking. Sometimes we had multiple people talking all at the same time. I kept having to try and elicit the opinions of a member of the group who kept on the fence of issues or agreed with the consensus of the majority of the group.

In 2 and a half hours we had the whole proposal written, sent to our lecturer and set due dates for completing the steps of the assignment.

I enjoyed my first Skype group call. It is a pity that it is not available at school so that we can work on the assignment during school time. I found it useful to use 2 laptops- 1 for Skype and the other to take notes in OneNote and the group wiki.

Miss H

Developing a wiki for group work assignment

One of the most unusual aspects of my Teacher Librarian university degree is doing one of the assignments via groupwork. To add to the challenge, the group members are spread across the whole state so we are unable to come together in the same place.

To help the group plan and write the assignment, I developed a wetpaint wiki tlasleaderassignment.wetpaint.com. The advantage of using a wiki is that group members can contribute to the writing at their convenience.

I also used what I have recently learned about embedding and widgets to put YouTube videos about Life after death by PowerPoint and I used a website called doc stoc to embed examples of PowerPoints related to the assignment.

My group members seem to be liking what I have created for the group. One team member called me a champion because I was able to give him explicit instructions on how to access and edit the wiki.

Miss H

Outfitting a teacher librarian for the 21st century. Here’s what it takes.

Today thanks to my Professional Learning Network I have found a wonderful site that outlines what Web 2.0 tools I should know about to be an effective TL in my school community. I am already using most of the tools in my teaching practice (I have been teaching Middle School History in the last 12 months) but I was not sure how I could apply these tools to the library operations. Here is the site:

http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/slj/home/888448-312/fully_loaded_outfitting_a_teacher.html.csp

I have been thinking about how I can overtly and covertly teach Information Skills to both students and staff. So far my covert ideas are bookmarks with a search engine tip on each side and index cards with tips displayed on the windows near the computers. Once I come up with some designs I shall post some photos. The idea is that students and staff will notice them casually (unless I point them out).

Miss H