Thursday, July 29, 2010

Teachers & Online Privacy

Justified Discipline
If a teacher irresponsibly publishes text or other media online, he/she may be disciplined. As described in the Dian Schaffhauser (2008) article, “Suspended Teacher Incident Ignites Debate: Should Online Privacy for Educators Exist?,” the unidentified teacher cited ignorance of settings as her justification for posting a racially offensive statement on Facebook. This is ridiculous, since the excuse of, “But, I didn’t know” is unacceptable even in a kindergarten classroom. Even if the teacher had posted her statement to be viewed by only a select group of people, it could still be captured and shared by a screenshot. By choosing to publish online, this teacher and all others are responsible for the potential outcomes of their decisions.

Educators' Responsibility
Educators are completely responsible for their behaviors regardless of whether or not they are shared online. Teachers who create inappropriate online content may be disciplined by a school district for violating human resources policies, Education Code, and/or creating a disruption to the school day. In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969), the US Supreme Court ruled that teachers and students’ rights to freedom of speech may be limited if they cause a substantial disruption to the learning environment. Publishing online increases the ease by which a comment or picture can become a disruption, since it can be easily shared.

Online Privacy
The concept of online privacy is a grey area. Students and teachers are able to limit viewer access to many online social networking sites, but this only limits who can view their content. They cannot control what these viewers do with their content or the privacy regulations of the host site. For example, one of my students may post a very revealing self-portrait within a private folder of her Facebook profile. However, one of her friends with access to the folder may copy the photo to repost on his profile making it completely public. Instead of simply expecting teachers and students to use privacy settings online, it is more important to teach them to refrain from posting any embarrassing or inappropriate text or media.

Separation of Networks
Within most social networks, it is very easy to regulate who can view users’ profiles. Within most popular social networking sites, profiles can be set as completely private or can limit the amounts of information different groups or individual users can access. Using these settings, it is simple to separate professional and personal profiles. However, it is more important to focus on a teacher’s larger online footprint. For example, my Facebook settings block my current students and alumni from viewing my photos and status updates. But, a quick Google search of my name will quickly reveal that I have spoken against teacher layoffs, attended Treasure Trails as a child, and emceed events for Girl Scouts. I cannot control the privacy settings of school board minutes, local archives, and newspaper articles. But, I do not mind these publications, since they are mixed within pages of links to my educational online content, such as Prezis and blogs. Besides, sharing these parts of my life make me a real person which helps to foster an authentic learning environment.

Photo: Lock, Tibet, Originally uploaded
by 星翼star_trooper

Schaffhauser, D. (n.d.). Suspended Teacher in Facebook Incident Ignites Debate: Should Online Privacy for Educators Exist?. THE Journal: Technological Horizons in Education. Retrieved July 29, 2010, from

Monday, July 26, 2010

Wiki Project Ideas

Since my school district, San Diego County Office of Education’s Juvenile Court and Community Schools, is spread across San Diego County, wikis are used as a communication tool for committees.  However, prior to reading Using Wikis for Online Collaboration:  The Power of the Read-Write Web by James A. West and Margaret L. West (2009), I had not seriously considering using them in my classroom.   But, I have tampered with unofficial wikis by using shared documents in Google Docs with my students.  Within in this book, I discovered a wealth of suggested uses for wikis that stretched my imagination of how to use wikis in my classroom.  Hopefully, this listing of project J. West and M. West’s ideas by title can help to spin the creative wheels of other educators.

West, J. A., & West, M. L. (2008). Using Wikis for Online Collaboration: The Power of the Read-Write Web (Online Teaching and Learning Series (OTL)) (New ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Evaluation of Learning Technology Tools

For a recent assignment, I had to explore and evaluate over 100 educational technology tools. If you are new to educational technology, many of these tools may be of interest to you. I am interested in hearing about your experiences with the tools listed in the “Top 100 Tools for Learning 2009” slideshow.

Web Quest Conquered

One of my new passions is collecting free educational technology tools to share incorporate into my lessons or just share with my peers and students. As a public school teacher, I do not have the convenience of asking my district to purchase every fee-based tool I find. Through collaboration with other educators, I have found that free online versions of almost every type of tool are available. By using free tools, I am able to easily add variety to my lessons and share tools with my students that they can access outside of classroom. (By the way, I am aware that this post is very long, but I honestly really enjoy talking about online tools!)

Top 100 Tools
Instead of examining the “Top 100 Tools for Learning 2008,” I examined the “Top 100 Tools for Learning 2009.” Since I was automatically redirected to this new slideshow, I expect that it was updated after this assignment was created. I know all 20 of the top tools and have used them within the past year in relation to education. Out of the top 60 tools, I have recently used or experimented with 49. Out of the top 100 tools, I knew 75. I would like to learn more about PBWorks, Elgg, NetVibes, Cirip, FreeMind, OpenOffice, Yammer, Bloglines, and Friend Feed. Honestly, I uninterested in spending time exploring the seventeen other tools that I did not know about, since they all charge fees. Since I use the following tools multiple times a day, my 5 favorites are Google Docs, Blogger, Delicious, Firefox, and Jing.

25 Tools
Upon examining the “25 Tools Every Learning Professionals Should Have in Their Toolbox,” I realized that my toolbox is already very full. I use tools in almost all of the 25 categories. The only categories that I do not have experience with are integrated social media platforms and course authorizing tools. First, I explored Elgg, the integrated social media platform, and was disappointed. I discovered that there is a downloadable opensource version of Elgg and a fee-based online version. I downloaded the opensource software, but I could not figure out how to run it. I quickly became frustrated and deleted it. I assume that I do not have the programming skills necessary to independently make this tool work. The fee-based version seemed more user-friendly, but I did not bother to create a trial account due to the fees. Next, I explored the course authorizing tools, Articulate and Lectora. Both tools are fee-based tools designed to help create online courses. I am a little unsure of the differences between these course management systems and the course authorizing tool Moodle. It appears that both types of tools create platforms to host and manage courses. Since Moodle is an opensource tool, it seems that is a more useful than fee-based course authorizing tools.

Social Bookmarking
Delicious is an online bookmarking tool. Within Delicious, users can save bookmarks labeled with descriptions and tags. By joining networks, users can view one another’s public bookmarks. I use a Delicious Firefox add-on, so I can add to and manage my bookmarks by just clicking a button. I have also created a large Delicious tagcloud on my classroom blog which enables my students and peers to easily access a group of my 500 bookmarks by clicking on a tag. My students are also beginning to use Delicious and a few of them have posted tagclouds on their blogs. Please view my Delicious tagcloud which is embedded within a page of my blog.

RSS Feeds
Google Reader is a service that aggregates selected RSS feeds into one scrolling list. Within Google Reader, the user can organize feeds, add notes, and share readings with others. Google Reader can also be combined with a Google Profile to generate a public RSS feed of all of the user’s shared readings. I use mostly Google Reader to quickly view updates on my students and other educators’ blogs. Recently, I discovered the Google Reader Play tool which I use to generate a slideshow of my subscriptions’ posts to use as a screensaver on my SMART Board. My Google Reader shared items can be viewed here.

Social Networking
Facebook is a social networking tool that enables users to share statuses, pictures, videos, links, notes, messages with friends and organizations. Additionally, Facebook integrates with outside applications to enable users to connect to their Facebook network and communication systems. I have used Facebook for the past few years to communicate with friends, family, and colleagues. I have even modified my privacy settings in order to “friend” some of my alumni students. Since Facebook is blocked on my campus, I do not use it to communicate with my current students. The public version of my Facbook profile is available here.

LinkedIn is a networking tool designed for professional communications. Within LinkedIn, users can create a profile filled with resume-style content. LinkedIn finds and suggests connections between users based on their employment and education histories. I created a LinkedIn account a few years ago, but quickly forgot about it when I discovered that very few of my friends had accounts. However, I just went back to revisit my account and discovered that I now have many possible connections. You may visit my simple LinkedIn account here.

Ning is a social networking tool that allows a creator to design a personalized social network. Within Ning, the user can create a profile and participate in collaboration through discussions, chats, and videos. I am a member of the Educator’s PLN on Ning. Through this network I can connect to other educators, many of whom are strong technology users. My profile page can be viewed here.

Photo Sharing
Flikr is a photo sharing tool. Users can upload photos and videos to their account and share them with members of their network and the public. Photos can also be tagged with content labels. Within Flikr, there is a section titled The Commons. In the commons, public photos are posted to be tagged and commented on. I just created my own Flikr account. I had viewed Fliker in the past, but I choose to share my photos on Facebook instead. However, I am interested in exploring the tagging features of Flikr. My new account can be viewed here.

Presentation Sharing
SlideShare provides users with a space to upload and share presentations and documents. These items can be shared by providing a link to the site or through embed codes. The site works with other networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. I created a SlideShare account a few months ago, but quickly abandoned it. Instead, I use Google Docs and Scribd to share my presentations. However, my account is available here.

PBWiki, which is now called PBWorks, is a tool that allows users to create and maintain wikis. Only the very basic version of this tool is available for free; most of the content on their site is aimed at persuading customers to pay a subscription fee. Like all wikis (most of which are completely free), PBWorks creates a page in which members can collaboratively edit and contribute to content. The idea of collaborative contribution to a website has evolved and is now available within most features of Google, such as Google Sites and Google Docs. I do not have a PBWorks account, but I have experimented with other free wiki sites.

Blogger is a blogging platform that allows users to post content that is displayed in through a scroll of time-stamped entries. Within a blog, a user can add additional pages and embed widgets from other sites. Readers can follow blogs to easily read updates in an RSS feed. My primary online method of communication with my students is my classroom blog. During the traditional school year, I post all assignments and other notifications daily. I also have created pages filled with communication tools and resources, such as shared Google Calendars. Additionally, my students and I maintain individual blogs which contain personal and academic posts. View a listing of my students’ blogs here. You may view my personal blog here.

iTunes U: Berkley iTunes U is one section of iTunes U, which is a collection of podcasts created for usage within education. In iTunesU, podcasts are created to represent a traditional college lecture series. The iTunes user can download and listen to the podcasts free of charge. I have not downloaded any of these podcasts. I am interested in exploring these lectures to find podcasts related to my curriculum to share with my students.

Google Search
On my first attempt to Google results for “best collaboration and learning tools,” I found a large quantity of resources from a few years ago. I’ve learning that technology tools are constantly improving, so I re-searched with “2010” added to my query. The first result was American Association of School Libraries’ list of Top 25 Websites for Teaching and Learning which contains a list of many more free online learning tools to explore.


I just added Feedjit to this page. I am considering encouraging my students to use it on their blogs. Thoughts?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Autobiographical Narratives Writing Unit

I created this writing unit as an assignment for EDU 649 Technologies with Teaching and Learning.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Writing Process Shared Folders in Google Docs

I completed this analysis as part of an assignment, but I figure it's worth sharing.  My kids, you may leave a comment describing how using shared folders in Google Docs has impacted your learning. 

The Big Idea
Teachers create a shared folder in Google Docs which contains all handouts related to the assigned writing process. Using Google Docs, students create folders shared with the teacher containing personalized copies of all handouts.

Shared folders created in Google Docs allow teachers to instantly distribute expectations and scaffolding handouts with students. Creating shared online folders containing all parts of the writing process eliminates the need for paper handouts and provides documents that can be easily modified by the student. Teachers are able to instantly revise content, which students are able to easily access from any location.

Students are able to easily share all—completed and in-progress—steps of the writing process with the teacher. Handouts cannot be lost, since they are saved with Google on “the cloud.”

Use It!
The teacher creates handouts containing all parts of the writing process in Google Docs. Documents can be presentation slide shows, word-processing documents, forms, spreadsheets, and drawings which can be created within Google Docs or uploaded from another source, such as Microsoft Word. Then, the teacher creates a new folder within her Google Docs account and places all documents in the folder. Renaming each document to begin with a number to identify its place in the sequential order of the writing process is highly recommended to assist the students in determining the order in which to open the documents. Next, the teacher selects the option to share the folder by publishing it and creating a link.

The teacher shares the folder with her students by publishing the link to the folder. The students open the folder to view and copy the documents to a folder within their Google Docs account. The students manipulate the content of each document, such as viewing a presentation, completing steps on an outline, or filling out a form. The students collect their work in personal Google Docs folders, which include numbered titles mirroring the teachers’ document titles. Then, the students share their entire folder with the teacher by providing her email account which invites her to become a collaborator to the folder.

Adopt or Adapt
Creating shared Google Docs folders to teach the writing process can be easily adopted for usage in any technology based or blended classrooms.

The process can also be adapted to be used with other content. Teachers can create shared folders for any unit, activity, or process.

By increasing the quantity of forms used within this process, students can also submit work by providing a link to each completed document. Then, all students’ links will appear in one spreadsheet, which can be viewed and modified by the teacher and/or other students.

Format adapted from:
Patti, S. (2007). The Online Learning Idea Book: 95 Proven Ways to Enhance Technology-Based and Blended Learning. Washington D.C.: Pfeiffer.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Help Me Design a Techy Classroom

Today, I selected my new classroom in a newly remodeled building.  Now, I am excited to design the room and order furniture.  However, I am struggling to find design ideas for a classroom that uses laptops instead of PCs.  I am considering using rolling chairs to move between wall-mounted desks for individual work and round tables in the middle of the room for group work.  I also want to create some additional floor space for comfortable reading.  However, I am open to create a completely nontraditional environment.  I just need to ensure that I am able to provide comfortable whole-class and individual learning spaces. 

Here's what I have:
-large rectangular room with three wide windows on one long side and doors at each end of the other side 
-SMART Board with mounted arm & speakers
-teacher table with a laptop docking station and docucam
-laptop cart with 1:1 laptops during class with around15 students per period

I am looking for suggestions and/or inspirational photos.  Thank you!