Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Power of Visuals to Persuade: An Inconvenient Truth and Teachers' Images

Last night I had the opportunity to watch Al Gore's documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. I realized how powerful his visuals were. His images showed the impact of global warming through charts and through simulations. As he was talking, I did not doubt him but I felt unconvinced. However, as I saw a simulation of the impact of global warming on icecaps and the potential flooding in areas like Florida, I saw the horrible possible future. I was moved. His images were convincing.

I wonder how powerful are the images that teachers use in the classroom? Are they compelling images? Do those images move students to new view points? To greater understanding? To more higher level thinking skills? Or do they just decorate a presentation?

What is your truth about visuals in your classroom? Can they convince students as to what winter is the Northeast is like?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

YouTube Shows Bad Teaching

In getting ready for a presentation, I spent several hours on YouTube. I found some amazing things for use in a classroom such as other students' or classes' production of Shakespeare.

However, the thing that shocked me the most was all the cellphone videos taken of teachers. Almost all of these depict teaching at its worst – boring, off of topic, wasting time, etc. From the descriptions I sense that the teachers were not aware of being recorded. It hurts to see such "bad" teaching. Maybe if we are thought that we were being recorded then we would teach better.

Flickr Hints, suggests that “You can't take pictures of people and post them on the web without theirpermission – at least, that's the position in the UK.”

Flickr Third Party Links for Classroom Use

Here are some Flickr links that you might find valuable for using Flickr in education


FlickrLeech—see all of today's thumbnails

Flickstorm sorts by topic rather quickly

Woophy Geotagged flickr

Airtight Interactive --See other tagging connections

Add Bubbles to a Picture or Series of Pictures/ See Archives

Flickr Tools Listing

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Flickr vs Google: Educational Application Analysis

The following chart shows a quick analysis of Flickr vs Google for using in an educational setting.
At this time Google has more images but the last few pages of Google images probably contain many icons or non-instructional images. Flickr's images are more realistic and better resolution but they contain more "see Juan at the falls" type images than Google. Flickr has a growing number of third party apps that promise to make it much more powerful such as geo-tagging in woophy. Which is better for the classroom? I would select Flickr.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Woophy and Flickr: Finding a Good Visual in Time?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then how long should a teacher or student search for a meaningful image to communicate an idea?

Yes, Flickr has a search engine.

Yes, Woophy searches Flickr through a map or a search.

There are a host of other searching flickr sites.

Flickr is a wonderful site that contain many images. However, the question still remains how long will a teacher or student be searching for an image?

I've been preparing a presentation on Visual Literacy and I've been using Flickr. I can verify that I have spent much time in finding the image that communicates the idea I want. For example, I want to give a quick overview of the geography of Mexico. When I search Woophy for Mexico, geography there are 102 images. Many of them do not show geography; for example, I see racing cars, models, traffic jams, a wall, etc. It is the search engine that is showing me geography or Mexico? It is that the pictures were tagged with geography? There is no way to see all of the images at once so I have to scroll down and see ten and then scroll to the next ten. Eventually I found what I needed but it took a long time. Do teachers and students have that much time in the classroom?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Time on Task: Minimal Computer Time Maximum Thinking Time For More Student Learning

A collleague observed many school groups in a museum and she noticed how little time they were actually on task.

I realize that educators can use technology to keep students on task. Students can be very busy when they are on the computer. I am unsure if we have measured how much time studens are engaged in actual content rather than the beautification of the presentation during a technology-infused learning project I am unsure if we have measured for how long students search for “just the right” image when the image does not add any new information to the digital report. I am not sure if we have measured how much students are off task even when they appear to be on task such as reading a website.

I have found that when students are given minimal time on the computer and maximum off-computer thinking time that their learning increases. I have done a one period research project in which groups of students had to give a one minute report on a certain topic at the end of the period. I gave them 10 minuteson the computer to find critical information and 20 minutes off the computer to organize the report. It was amazing that each month we did this project the students increased the amount of different information that they found even though they had the same time. They found much richer information. They were more focused and more on task when they were online so they learned more.

How do you maximize student learning that involves technology-infused learning?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Increased Student Accountability Through Eportfolio

Students select what they put in their eportfolio. They do not put in teacher prescribed activities but they select from many possible activities the one that best shows their progresses in the standard.

Students can include more learning examples than they would on a state benchmark or exam. For example, on the NYS 11th English Language Arts Regents there are only four different tasks.

Students can include more comprehensive examples. The teachers can have students include two examples for a specific subset of the standard.

Students can frequently review their eportfolio on a quarterly basis. They can examine what they have put in and what they might put in. Do they have a new example that is better than one they previously have put in?

Students can include insightful reflections that show what they have learned and what they still need to learn about the standard.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Online Conversations: Good Pedagogy or New Technology:

I recently heard a person describe a new conversation tool that the person is helping to develop. The more I heard about the tool, the more I realized that what was needed was not a new technology tool but good pedagogy.

As teachers, we create the online learning environment. We orchestrate how students will respond to questions or prompts. We set our high expectations for how students will respond. We assess them on thoughtful well-documented responses, not on the number of responses. We expect them to read and understand what other students have written and to respond by adding new information or exploring different aspects of the topic. We, the educators, make online conversations to be effective learning experiences, not the technology we are using.