More Than Cool Tools

This weekend I reviewed the K12 Online Conference presentation, More Than Cool Tools, by Brian Lamb, Alan Levine, and D’Arcy Norman. Below are my take away from the session and how it applies to my professional situation. I used the provided Professional Development Template to reflect on the presentation, and plan to submit it for salary advancement workshop points. Once the K12 Online Conference PD Database is available, I have also submitted will be submitting my reflection to the K12 Online Conference PD Database.

After watching the video More Than Cool Tools, I’ve reflected on the Web 2.0 tools I’ve chosen to endorse in our district. In 2004 blogs, wikis, and RSS were available. In the Spring of 2007 blogs, wikis, and RSS were just taking off in my district. Partly because I’m not an early adopter when it comes to the tools I choose for the professional learning opportunities that I offer our staff. I see it as an investment when I create professional learning objects. I want to be sure it is truly beneficial in the classroom and not just a novelty. I don’t want to waste the teacher’s time, or “firehose” them with the ever increasing tools out there. I go to my learning network to see what tools others are using, and how they have successfully applied the tools to the classroom. Many of the verbs mentioned in this presentation are things I consider when selecting tools. As mentioned in the presentation, Web 2.0 tools come and go overnight, so I try to choose tools that have stood the test of time, which in the Internet world is not long, and still just a shot in the dark. I’m familiar with many of tools mentioned. Some of the tools I’m supporting in our District include Edublogs, Wikispaces, Bloglines, Flickr, Moodle, United Streaming, ePALs, Google Docs, Skype, Voice Thread, Picnik, Podomatic, Audacity, Feedburner, Delicious, SlideShare, BubbleShare, iTunes, and Creative Commons. I share all my learning objects online, licensed with Creative Commons, including Moodle professional development courses for our teachers, screencast tutorials, handouts, and online resources.

Living in a constant construction zone is a phrase that I connected with from the session. The tools are constantly changing to meet the needs of users and include new features, which is good. This has caused me to reflect on the way I instruct and model the use of technology for teachers. When preparing, I visualize classroom application and the management issues that need to be addressed. I spend a lot of time creating how-to guides with specific, numbered steps. But these learning objects can become outdated in just days. I need to model how I learn new tools. Opportunities arise during workshops in which a teacher asks how to do something I haven’t tried yet, and I model then how to find the answer. Teachers need to be able to deal with the constant state of change of Web 2.0 tools. As David Warlick said in his keynote, one of the most important tasks we can complete as educators is to show our students how to be learners. I need to model more for the teachers the strategies I use when learning a new tool. Up to this point the purpose of my blog has been basically informational. I now see a reason for using it for reflecting on my own learning.

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4 thoughts on “More Than Cool Tools

  1. Pingback: Good K12Online07 PD Reflection example » Moving at the Speed of Creativity

  2. How would you like to come to Arizona? Have you thought about relocating to the Southwest? I so wish my District and PD people were where you and your district are. I can’t even access some of the tools that you use in your district! Mind you, this is not for want or trying. Some of the tools I can access to see someone else’s creation, but I can’t access to create my own. Others are just totally blocked. Audacity, United Streaming, and Delicious I can actually access and do something with. Google Docs I haven’t tried yet, but would be willing to bet that it is blocked also. I’ve been a school librarian for going on 18 years now and have been a proponent of technology in my District, but today I feel like I am hitting my head against a block wall. Our IT people must have gone to a seminar or training over the summer because things are buttoned down tighter than last year. The only good news this year was the surprise access to educational blogs and wikis that had been blocked last year. Still can’t create one without going through numerous battles or through a backdoor, but it is a small change. One of our biggest problems is that IT is part of the business office and not part of the curriculum department. As a result, none of the employees have an education background- and no understanding of the word “need” when used by a teacher or librarian.

    As I said before, wouldn’t you like to come to nice, warm Arizona? Probably not, you would be so frustrated that you would quit shortly after you arrived…

  3. Linda I think you made an important point at the end. The 3 gentleman who maintain our network have education degrees and have been in the classroom, or are still teaching a class. We do block a significant number of sites, (YouTube for example), but have kept available many of the wonderful resources out there. I’m thankful for this. Thanks for the invitation. Maybe I’ll visit sometime.

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