Monday, November 21, 2011

Doing the Web 2.0 Quickstep

As the first few months of my Web 2.0 course pass I have begun to dance the Web 2.0 dance just a little quicker. As a new dancer there have been the inevitable missteps.

Image: 'Indian dancer ¬ 9363*'
I have done the Flickr: steps at school without too much stress. I have experimented using Flickr in the library for a few lessons where I showed colour palettes and watercolour paintings. I found a visual of 5 grams of salt for a nutrition lesson and another group used the flickr images on Mashpedia to understand oil spills.

These Thinglink steps are still in rehearsal.  It is a tool I would like to have our students access on their web pages. It remains to be seen whether the thinglink plugin can be activated on Weebly student accounts.

The Podcasting steps are a bit more complicated than we thought but with more attention to the technical we will have this tool ready for performance. In order to accommodate class  podcasting we purchased an upgrade for the PodOmatic site for one year.  Some very enthusiastic grade 8 classes have created scripts to use for podcasting their research about issues related to water. Using Audacity which can be found on the school board computer image was simple although students found trying to transfer from Audacity versions downloaded at home to the school version was impossible due to incompatibly issues. We found microphones to use with our netbook labs and the library has purchased our own microphone/head sets. Unfortunately problems developed when the microphones would not record and when classroom noise levels interfered with recording.

In order to publish student podcasts we needed to contact  PodOmatic support. They instructed us to have students use the same login and password to access and publish their episodes on our podcast channel.
One more thing: we are looking into a school Voicethread Account
and a staff learning session in the library to allow more students access to this tool for broadcasting on the internet .

Video Creating is a dance of frustrations. The students in small groups collected video clips for editing to create commercials for Media Studies. Students were given the choice of using or Movie Maker. To access Movie Maker using school computers is simple as the software is on our school board computer image. Some of the library netbooks required downloading of the software which revealed that Microsoft Movie Maker is not available for Windows XP (the system our school computers use).

Our first attempt to upload to Movie Maker failed because our flipcamera files are MP4 and movie maker reads avi files.
'Flip Camera
An email to our Learning Technologies Specialist gave me the link to Free Studio (supported by our board) to use to convert MP4 files to avi. The download and the conversion took forever! And because we were dealing with two classes and six groups in each class and needed to transfer from computer to computer using USB drives and the librarian didn't think to name the files using student can imagine that day.
Thanks to the engagement of technology the students were patient while they waited and enthusiastic once their files were uploaded and the editing began.  Thank you to my colleague who was supportive and had a sense of humour.
I am seriously considering an additional investigation of Animoto for online video editing. Rouleau (2011) writes, "Animoto allows the user a fast and animated video creation tool that automatically adds in special effects with minimal effort." (para.3)

Still practicing these Diigo steps: Although I have had Diigolet added to my library netbook image and suggested to some students they open an account to collect bookmarks for a research assignment there has been little opportunity to teach with Diigo.

Blogging is the dance I most look forward to. Blogger is blocked by our board and Edublogs although recommended  by our board as a substitute for Google Blogger doesn't rank highly amoung staff who have class websites. Weebly though, is very well thought of and a number of staff already have accounts. A request to open a Weebly account put to our principal resulted in the purchase of a campus account for 750 students and 30 teachers with the ability for present account holders to migrate to the new school Pro Campus account.
We have introduced blogging to four classes this week using the Commoncraft videos: Blogs in Plain English., a Brainpop Video about Blogs and the Kist (2010) Snowball activity (p.37) which has been very successful in helping students recognize the need for guidelines when writing blogs.
I have recreated my BBAT boys' reading blog using Weebly and hope to encourage our boys to read and write using this tool. I am also considering using blogging for my Red Maple Reading Program group to discuss the ten fiction titles selected this year.

The dance continues and each day I feel a little more sure-footed about the opportunities for using Web 2.0 tools in my school library with the teachers and students.

Would you care to dance?

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