- Introduce (again) Diigo to enable staff to share website resources.(try the laptops first to ensure no glitches this time!). Staff are constantly reinventing the wheel in their search for websites for themselves and students. Many sites are forgotten or cannot be accessed when needed, as they are on their desktop at school. Diigo will allow our staff to build and share a common repertoire of useful websites, including the ability to share highlights and annotations. We will also be able to use Diigo for education with our students, allowing teachers to share subject specific sites with them, or allowing students to create their own groups to share sites. Sites can be accessed by staff and students 24/7 from any Internet connection. This is also a gentle introduction to using Social Networking with both staff and students.
- Introduce new Multimedia Presentation tools (time to move past Powerpoint!). Staff continue to use Powerpoint, because they are familiar with it. Students are exposed to so much more media that is interactive, that they find Powerpoint tired and ‘lame’ to quote a few. Interactive tools such as Animoto, Voicethread, Prezi, and others allow students the ability to share information in a way that excites and interests them. Staff are looking for presentation tools that are simple to create, engaging for students and meet learning needs (Frequent Five no. 1). Staff who are explaining how to use computer tools over and over again, from year to year or class to class, can use Jing to save their teaching, and simply show the video to students when needed, allowing students who require extra help the option of getting it whenever they need, simply by clicking on a link (saved in Diigo, of course!)
- Develop our use of Videosharing: focusing on students creating and sharing video. We have purchased one Flip cam per grade level team, and the expectation is that they will be used by staff and students to record events, student plays, projects or readings, etc. Staff are interested in how to best use the Flips, and in sharing the clips via their class websites, or by loading them onto TeacherTube (YouTube still being semi-blocked by the district). Teachers are also interested in sharing curriculum related Internet videos, perhaps by using a site like Vodpod, or just using Diigo for this as well.
- Deepen our understanding of wikis, blogging and podcasting (see Frequent Five no.5). We have already begun to use wikis and blogs, however we have just scratched the surface of using these sites with our students. So far, our blogging efforts have been mostly teacher posts requiring student comments. We need to move to students creating their own content through posting as well as commenting, creating their own blogs to show their learning, as both process and product. Teachers can be creating their own blogs to reflect on their learning, and if we ask teachers to comment on each other’s posts, we can create a reflective, collaborative tool to increase our own learning and deepen our practice. Wikis have been used in our school as pathfinders, note-takers, storytelling receptacles and presentation vehicles. Why not try using them for collaborative problem solving, journaling, portfolios, study guides, or notes collaboration? With the emphasis on collaboration in creating global learners, we should continue to explore and use this tool with students. We have just scratched the surface of podcasting and there is so much to learn about using it as a tool with students to create booktalks, showcase their learning, write and perform plays, create study guides, and more. Students can also search for and listen to podcasts in curricular areas such as social studies, language arts and more. Teachers can create podcasts for parent information, class notes for those who struggle with taking and reading notes, record professional development for others who are unable to attend, to present their ideas for teaching and learning in an alternate format, snf more. Even though we have already explored and use these tools, Frequent Five no. 5 says that there is no end to our learning. I am reminded by a quote on learning meditation from Lawrence Le Shan (2004): “When you get there, you find there is no there there.” The learning goes on and on. 🙂
Category Archives: Web 2.0 Tools
What is a blog? Will Richardson (2009) says that it is an “easily created, easily updateable website that allows an author to publish instantly to the Internet from any Internet connection.” (p 17). No knowledge of programming or html is necessary, just a computer and access to the Internet. Not only can bloggers create text on their websites, but they can also include links to other sites, images, video and audio. Blogs are personal website creation for the masses. And the masses are creating them….there were 151,226,424 blogs as of today, and of those, 43,588 were created in the last 24 hours (as per BlogPulse, November 28, 2010). What do people find to blog about? Richardson (2009) says there is a blog for everyone and everything, from aardvarks to knitting to zen. Whatever people are interested in, or want to talk or learn about, that’s what they will blog about. Blogging doesn’t necessarily even need to be on a blog site. Richardson (2009) believes that in essence, Facebook and MySpace are also blogging platforms, in that people use them to create mini-websites based on their identities. What makes a blog different from a website or wiki? The key to blogging is its interactivity (Richardson, 2009). Not only are you able to say what you want to say, you can share it with the world and through commenting, the world can share their thoughts and ideas back with you. The blog becomes a conversation. Berger and Trexler (2010) state that, even though a blog is a reflection of one person’s voice, feedback is “the gateway to the discussion that the blogger hopes to generate” (p. 103). They suggest that feedback can be given not only through comments, but also through links or trackbacks to your post from other’s blogs. In this way, one blog post, say on using wikis as a storytelling tool, is referred to (and a trackback created) by a second blogger who builds onto the original discussion. Other bloggers then read the second blog, refer and create their own trackbacks to it, or they may follow the link back to the original blog, read it, and then refer to the original post on their blog. The discussion becomes a virtual spiderweb of interrelated blog posts, creating a rich and full discussion.
There are a number of popular, free blog hosting sites. Among them are Edublogs, Blogger, and WordPress. Richard Byrne has a good overview of the three different platforms on his blog Free Technology for Teachers. I have not used Blogger, but have used both Edublogs and WordPress.
Personal Learning about the tool:
I chose to use WordPress for this blog, as I felt it had more features than Edublogs. Once you have signed up and created your blog, you are then taken to your ‘dashboard’, the control center for your blog, where you can start to play with the site, personalizing it to suit your style and purpose. For appearance, WordPress has over 100 themes you can choose from, many of them with customizable headers. Each theme has its own colour and style, with different header, footer, column, widget, category and page layouts. As you look at the different styles, consider the purpose of your blog. Do you need more than one column? What theme is going to be the simplest for your visitors to navigate? Are they going to be able to easily view pages, posts and comments? Do you want/need widgets, and does the theme support the number of widgets you want to have? Once you have chosen a theme, you can play with the other features of your dashboard, or you can begin the conversation with your first blog post. On the dashboard, choose New Post, and start typing.
I began using a blog with my students in the fall of 2007. Our school had an inservice on creating and using blogs in our classroom. Unsure of all of the ways I could use a blog, I decided to use it as a tool to write about their home reading. Each student was required to read at home every night, and I asked them to comment on the blog about the book they were reading. Comments were structured to reflect the reading strategies that we were working on. I enjoyed setting up the blog, and my students were excited about using it. They commented furiously for some time. The key was responding to their comments and continuing the conversation. After a while their comments started dropping off and it seemed to become more ‘homework’ for them. I began to showcase comments in the morning, using the projector and Smartboard, and the interest picked up again. Once I began working as a teacher librarian, I used the blog in the same way, creating an online reading club for our school. The response was overwhelming at the beginning. I found it difficult to keep up with responding to each child, working on the computer for hours after school. After the initial excitement, I found it was the same students who commented over and over again. I began asking them to comment to each other, and they carried on the conversation for most of the year. Meanwhile, I had created a blog for our family. With one brother living in Toronto, and one daughter living in Ireland, I envisioned it as a collaborative tool for us to keep in touch with each other. However, a blog is only going to work if you use it, and since no-one else had the interest, time or energy to post, it died a natural death.
My first attempts would not be considered blogging by Will Richardson’s (2009) standards. I was very structured about my students’ comments, and only I had the ability to post. I was maintaining control and the blog was only a one-way street. It would be considered a level 1 on Richardson’s (2009) scale of blogging.
1. Posting assignments (Not blogging)
2. Journaling, i.e. “this is what I did today.” (Not blogging)
3. Posting links. (Not blogging)
4. Links with descriptive annotation, i.e., “This site is about…” (Not really blogging either, but getting close depending on the depth of the description).
5. Links with analysis that gets into the meaning of the content being linked. (A simple form of blogging).
6. Reflective, metacognitive writing on practice without links. (Complex writing, but simple blogging, I think. Commenting would probably fall in here somewhere).
7. Links with analysis and synthesis that articulate a deeper understanding or relationship to the content being linked and written with potential audience in mind. (Real blogging).
8. Extended analysis and synthesis over a longer period of time that builds on previous posts, links, and comments. (Complex blogging). (p. 31)
Now I have a very different vision of what blogging is and have come to a greater appreciation of what blogging can be. I believe I have come closer to real blogging as defined by Richardson (2009). I have created posts that are reflections of my explorations and practice with using technology, adding links to other sites/blogs that either emphasize points or reference ideas that I have presented. Have I moved to complex blogging? Perhaps I am on the way. Each post has been on a different topic, or Web 2.0 tool, however each one has been a deeper adventure, built on my previous experiences and links. I can’t say that I have built on previous comments, as I have had few comments from others on my blog. True blogging should be a conversation, as Richardson (2010) points out in a comment on Kim Cofino’s post on creating a scope and sequence for blogging:
“Since that writing (which I found I had originally posted on my blog almost six years ago now…yikes!) I’ve also been thinking a lot about the “connective” nature of blogs, the idea that we write in blogs with the intention not just to publish ideas to the world but to really connect to others and get feedback. (Kinda what’s happening here, right now.) If one of the affordances of the technology is that readers can interact, how does that change the intention of the writing.” That social interaction can come even when the blog is a form of journaling, as in these comments on posts from the Yarn Harlot’s blog (although we knitters can be a chatty bunch.)
Social interaction in the form of comments and responses can move a blog from being the blogger’s reflection on ideas or learning, to an interactive, social experience that helps the blogger deepen their own understanding and perhaps, the understanding of others. Although I had few comments on this blog, in my last post on Twitter, I mentioned that as a user of Twitter for PD, I was not really interested in the social chit chat, and mentioned a ‘social chat’ Twitter from Dean Shareski that I remembered having read. Dean commented on the post, and said, “I will argue for the fact that part of the appeal for many is building relationships that include a degree of silly and seemingly trivial. This is one way we build social capital as well, these tools are social. There is a blending of professional and personal…” His comments, and the comments of others (who found my blog through Shareski’s tweet :)) made me stop and reflect on the social experience of using Twitter. It helped me to consider the importance of building community when we use Twitter. After all, when I’m at a conference, I will often talk with my colleagues about my family, or my interests; it gives me (and them) a sense of who we are as social beings. Why should it be different on Twitter? Thus, the conversation between the commenters and myself deepened my understanding of the topic.
This is what I believe blogging can be at its best; an analysis or exploration of a topic or idea which leads to a conversation between the blogger and his/her readers, leading to a growth in understanding for all. It is the hope that others will read, reflect, and respond that increases bloggers’ motivation to write.
Personal use of the tool:
As I said above, my personal family blog is no more….sniff. However, I love to read blogs by others on knitting, yoga, storytelling, and art. The biggest personal (and professional) use of blogging for me has been opening a Google Reader account and subscribing to blogs I follow using RSS. The video below explains how RSS can help you to track and follow blogs:
I use my Google Reader (and the Feeddler app on my iPad) everyday.
Blogs and newspaper feeds are sent to my inbox, waiting for me to open and read them. After supper I hit the couch with my iPad and start reading. Often I will tweet, bookmark or email the links I have found to others. Reading blogs has become addicting, I learn so much!
Will I create and use a blog personally? Not at the present moment. I am more interested in using a blog to reflect on my professional practices as a teacher and teacher-librarian. Maybe when I retire, I will start a storytelling/knitting/yoga blog of my own!
Professional use of the tool:
The uses for blogging in the classroom are as varied as the uses for websites: as a communication tool for teachers and students, a presentation or writing tool, a collaborative discussion space, as eportfolios, and more.
Berger and Trexler (2010) share 7 ways that blogs support student learning:
1. supports critical thinking, encouraging students to think and reflect prior to writing
2. motivates and engages students
3. provides an opportunity to improve literacy skills
4. offers an authentic audience, encourages students to write responsibly
5. provides a forum for feedback, collaboration, and discussion
6. involves student in a community of learners
7. helps student develop their voice and provides equity (p. 105)
As students become aware of the idea that their teacher, peers, parents, and perhaps the world will read their work (depending on the nature of the blog), they plan and think about their work more carefully. In my class, students who were careless about the writing they handed in to me were much more thoughtful about the writing that they did for our class blog.
Kist (2010) reports an increased motivation for writing in students who are blogging. This makes sense to me…aren’t we talking about kids today being digitally connected? They are used to sharing their lives and thoughts with the world using technology. Even those who may not yet be on Facebook (and the age for those on Facebook is getting younger and younger) regularly MSN or text each other. Taking a poll in a grade 6 classroom at my school, 75% of students connect with their friends through text or social media. They are already writing for an audience, our job is to help them learn how to focus and craft that writing.
Alan November (2008) says that blogging shifts the locus of control from teachers to students. It expands the audience for student work from the teacher to the world.This connects to comments by Dean Shareski in his slideshare “What do we keep and what do we throw away?”
He suggests that one of the things we need to throw away is the notion of teachers as the expert centre of all knowledge. Blogging can increase the conversation from a direct line where the teacher sees if you’ve learned to see the world the way that the teacher sees it, or sharing your visions of the world with the world, allowing others to comment and add to your learning. He quotes Will Richardson as saying “We…need to think of ourselves as connectors first and content experts second.”
November (2008) also points to the use of blogging as a classroom note-taking tool. He shares a blog that is used by a calculus teacher, where, each class, one student is chosen to be the ‘note taker’. They take notes and post them on the blog, and other students can comment or add. November (2008) writes, “Before blogging, we would expect hardworking students to be able to read the calculus textbook. Darren expects his students to write the ‘book’-i.e. blog.” (p.82).
Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano has developed a ‘step ladder’ approach to using blogging with students in the classroom on her Langwitches blog:
Her goal is to move her teachers “from a purely informational, static, one-way-communication site to a global communication center.” (para.1). The video in the post below shows 2nd grade students from her school teaching their families how to use the blog. Notice how they are developing a shared language, learning (and teaching others) to navigate their blog, and preparing to present their writing to the world. In this picture, you can see their practice blog, a variation on the paper blogging activity from the No Matter, There blog.
Interestingly, not only does he provide the rubric, Clarence also provides the link to the Google Doc of the rubric so that others can upload and modify the document for their own purposes and classes, as well as a link to Kim Cofino’s blog post, where she invites readers to work with her on a Google Doc to build a scope and sequence for blogging. Both of these posts show the power of blogging, where the blogger and his/her readers build meaning together.
Blogging can also be a powerful tool for professional development. George Couros has asked all of his classroom teachers to begin using blogs. These are classroom blogs as opposed to student blogs, showcasing not only the learning in classrooms, but also the learning of teachers. In his post he shares ideas for administrators to use teachers’ blogs to help them stay in touch with what it happening in their school.
1. Add classroom blogs to an RSS feed. This is such an easy way to follow what classes are doing, without continuously checking if sites have been updated. I use Google Reader to create bundles, so I can follow the content of all my classrooms in one place (similar to this one). If you do not understand what RSS is, here is a short little video that will help you understand.
2. Take the time to share posts with other teachers in their school. It is hard to come up with ideas (here is a great list of them that my PLN created), so sometimes we can be inspired by what teachers in our building are doing. Celebrate and share!
3. Take the time to comment on teacher blogs. This shows everyone that you appreciate what is happening in the classroom, and the extra time teachers are taking to communicate and collaborate with their classroom. Reading is not enough. Be a leader and show how to properly comment to your school community while also gaining the opportunity to communicate with students, parents, and teachers. (para. 4).
Again, included in his post are links to a video to help increase his readers’ understanding of RSS feeds, and to a Google Doc that shares ideas for teachers’ use of blogs.
Dean Shareski has written a post entitled How to Make Better Teachers. In it, he discusses how his blog has helped his growth as a professional; “The reflective writing has been valuable but definitely the nearly 4,000 comments have been even more of a learning experience. This is the single best professional development experience I’ve had.” (para. 2). He goes on to share his plan to use blogs to create better teachers:
“Hire a teacher, give them a blog. Get them to subscribe to at least 5 other teachers in the district as well as 5 other great teachers from around the globe. Have their principal and a few central office people to subscribe to the blog and 5 other teachers as well. Require them to write at least once a week on their practice. Get conversations going right from the get go. Watch teachers get better.” (para. 6).
Notice that his plan includes subscribing to five other teachers (using RSS). Thus, teachers are not only reflecting on their own practices, but reading the reflections of others. I might add; Ask each teacher to comment on at least one other teacher’s blog, to help build the conversations. Both this and Couros’ post discuss having teachers reflect on their practice and ‘going public’ with it, inviting others to comment and join the conversation.
Reflective practice is a tool to help us to consider our teaching practices and change them for the better. Blogging allows us to invite the world to share our learning, and to work as a global community to develop better teaching practices for the 21st century.
Berger, P. & Trexler, S. (2010). Choosing web 2.0 tools for learning and teaching in a digital world. Santa Barbara:CA. Libraries Unlimited.
Kist, W. (2010). The socially networked classroom. Thousand Oaks:CA. Corwin Press.
November, A. (2008). Web literacy for educators. Thousand Oaks:CA. Corwin Press.
Richardson, W.(2009). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks:CA. Corwin Press.
- Update Twitter, FaceBook, and LinkedIn.
- Large Twitter API Rate
- Custom Retweet or Twitter style
- Record, share, and watch video clip
- View YouTube Videos within TweetDeck
- Manage Multiple Twitter accounts
- Trending of local events and Twitscoop
- Create and mange Twitter List
- Follow Topics in real-time through saved searches.
- Saved Searches can be edited through the column
- Update Facebook
- Ingrates with LinkedIn Professional contacts
- See who is following you – you can have a who’s following you column so you can see what they are tweeting
- Preview short URL before opening. You can Also see the original link
- Backup TweetDeck by using sync and back-up
- Report and Block Spam Button ß Love this feature, it kills @mention spam quickly
- Flickr, Twitgoo and mobypicture is now supported
- keyboard shortcuts for speedy messaging
Things You can Do With Hootsuite
- Schedule Tweets
- Ping.fm Integration so you can update social networks that are not supported by Hootsuite
- Team Workflow
- Add, create and manage Twitter Lists
- Topic Search and Keyword Tracking
- Create Columns based on searches
- Secure Log in
- Web App – I can use hootsuite on any PC, Mac, Linux system as long as I have access to Hootsuite’s page
- Message Drafts
- View, manage, schedule, post to WordPress
- Ow.ly and Ht.ly URL shorteners
- Track Statistics
- Featured User List
- Update Facebook, LinkedIn, Myspace, and Foursquare
- RSS feed from your website to all of our social networks
- Preview Short Links and see Original Links before opening them.
- Report and block spam
- Follow User Lists in their own column
- Separate tabs for the different social media networks”
Sarah Worsham also has an insightful post comparing the advantages and disadvantages of Hootsuite vs Tweetdeck. For her, Hootsuite wins out. James Johnson ends up using both platforms; Tweetdeck when he is on his home computer, and Hootsuite when he is needing remote access. After using both for a time, I decided to do the same; I am currently using Tweetdeck on my desktop and iPad, and Hootsuite when I check in for tweets at school or other remote computers. Follow this link to see a screencast of my Hootsuite, and this link to see a screencast of my Tweetdeck.
Personal use of the tool
- as an opinion poll.
- directing student’s attention to important points
- building an instant “backchannel.”
Why use multimedia in the classroom? In this day and age, with the tools we have available to us, why not? We live in a digital world with students who are digitally wired. David Warlick (2007) in his post Our Classrooms are Leaking talks about how our students are digitally connected with ‘info-tentacles” in their daily life, and then, when they come to school, we “chop their tentacles off” (para 5). Multimedia tools give our students the ability to reconnect and use those tentacles at school.
Singh and Means (nd), in their project Technology and Education Reform, looked at nine schools where technology was being incorporated. They found students had a better awareness of audience and purpose for their projects, an increased ability to collaborate, use more higher-order thinking skills, and showed an increase in motivation and self-esteem. The role of the teacher became more facilitative, rather than directorial.
The University of South Florida’s Education department state that “Multimedia activities encourage students to work in groups, express their knowledge in multiple ways, solve problems, revise their own work, and construct knowledge.” (para 1). As I read over this list, I immediately think of the 21st century skills we deem so important for students: collaboration, creative expression of knowledge, problem solving, editing and presenting work for an audience, and constructing their own knowledge. Multimedia tools and activities engage and motivate students. Every time I have introduced students to a new multimedia tool, they have immediately become more excited about the subject we will be using the tool for, whether it is language arts, social studies, or science.
In the posts below, I have explored five multimedia tools: VoiceThread, Animoto, Vuvox, Jing, and Prezi. Each one has its own power:
VoiceThread: the images and the conversations between students
Animoto: the energy and vividness of the medium ( music is essential)
Vuvox: the creation of a storyline using photos
Jing: the ability to share your compute screen with the world
Prezi: the ability to share your thoughts in a nonlinear fashion with the ability to zoom in and create focus and drama for your thoughts
All of these provide you ways to share your ideas, stories, research, teaching and learning in a deep and rich way, appealing to the multi sensory outputs of your audience. They all help you to focus and consider the audience for your work, and is that not the power of communication? It allows us to create together and share our work with each other in meaningful and powerful ways. In this way we learn together, and our learning is deeper and richer.
Singh, R. & Means, B. (nd). Technology and Education Reform. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/EdReformStudies/EdTech/index.html
University of South Florida. (nd). Why use multimedia in the classroom. Retrieved from http://fcit.usf.edu/multimedia/overview/overviewb.html
Warlick, D. (2007). Our classrooms are leaking. In 2 Cents Worth. Retreived from http://davidwarlick.com/2cents/?p=1166
Process of learning about the tool
VoiceThread was another tool that I had heard about, signed up for and then forgot about until recently. I finally decided to explore the idea of using VoiceThread with my grade 1/2 class to see how it might work for my kindergartens to connect with other kindergartens across the district. Creating the Voicethread was simple and engaging for both me and my students. I decided to focus on the 7 Habits, which is a school wide focus. I had already signed up for an educators account, so I logged in and clicked on create. Like Animoto, they make the steps clear and simple. The first step was to upload images from your computer, other media sources: Flickr, Facebook, The New York Public Library, or VoiceThread itself, from a URL, or from a webcam. I uploaded an image for each of the 7 Habits from Google Images. I was then able to add a title, and a link if I chose. Once all of my images were uploaded, I clicked on step 2: Comment. I had already been provided with an icon that represented me (a little house), however, it used my first name. As I was planning to use this with my students, I uploaded an image and titled it Mrs. Davies. Using the ‘Identities’ feature, I gave my students all their own icons. There is a limited selection of icons, so I had three of each. With older students, I probably would have let them upload their own images to use as icons. The next step was to let the students comment on the 7 Habit images. My grade one/two class sits in 6 groups. I gave each group one habit and asked them to think about how they used that habit at school. After some brainstorming and group discussion, each student had an idea about their habit and was ready to add a comment. Comments can be added through telephone, webcam, microphone, typing text, or uploading an audio file. I had a microphone on my teacher computer and groups came up one at a time, and each student recorded their comments. The comment is played back, and students loved hearing the sound of their own voice. If they were satisfied, I saved it, or I was able to cancel it. At any time, comments can be deleted and redone. Once we were finished, I clicked on the third button, Share. This gives you the opportunity to get a link or to invite people by email. Voicethreads can be private, and only viewable by people we have given the link to or invite, or you can choose to make them public. Even when you make it public, VoiceThread offers options: for people to view, or to view and have moderated comments, or to view and comment openly. Our class has decided to invite our buddy class to comment. My students are excited to see what their buddy class says about the 7 Habits and about their comments! I am ready to try it with my kindergarten and a class across the city. However, VoiceThread is not limited by distance or time zones. I wonder if I can find a kindergarten somewhere across the world who would like to connect with us? As a Leader in Me School, I think I could find another school who would like to comment on the 7 Habits. Maybe one in Singapore….
Personal use of the tool
VoiceThread could be used for families or individuals to create albums of trips with commentary. I have been meaning to create a family history album for some time (OK, for the last 15 years 🙂 ). Lately, I have been thinking of creating a memory album of my aging parents for my infant nieces and nephews, allowing them the opportunity to share their memories and thoughts with each other across time. What better way than a Voicethread? I plan on scanning in images from my parents’ past, and having them comment or tell their stories about the images.
Professional Use of the Tool
The power of VoiceThread is the ability to create conversations around images. I have already described one way I have used it in my classroom, and there are many more. As a professional learning tool, you could upload images relating to a problem or an idea for your school, and invite staff to comment on it. It could be a virtual staff meeting, with anytime, anywhere (with internet) access, and a record of the conversation. Joyce Valenza posted an article about a Voicethread book study on ‘Readicide’. Trying to get staff together to talk about professional literature is difficult. A Voicethread offers staff a quality book study experience on their time, as opposed to trying to set up a meeting. The possibilities with students are endless. Here is a great presentation of 20 ways to use Voicethread with students from K-12 . As well, check out this wiki for VoiceThread ideas, samples and tutorials. I love how they have pages for using VoiceThread as a PLN, in the library, for Special Ed, and more!
See my Prezi in my post below!
Learning about the tool
Prezi was the tool I found most similar to PowerPoint. Prezi, however, is more fluid; rather than working on each slide separately, you see the entire board. This allows for a better overall view of your presentation or project. Contradictorily, at first, it was frustrating to have so much mobility….it seemed like I was everywhere! Once again, YouTube tutorials to the rescue! Using the editing wheels to create and manipulate the presentation was awkward at first, however, once I got the hang of it, it was fun….kinda like driving those bumper cars at the mall! 🙂
Ashraf (2010) says Prezis have 4 basic elements: content, effects, visual enhancements and paths. Prezis allow for upload of video, PDFs and image, and of course, the addition of as much text as you wish. If you can run on forever in PowerPoint, you can run on forever in Prezi, too! An advantage is that you can combine the use of short, powerful snippets of text to make a point along with areas of longer text to explain, persuade, etc. How is that different from PowerPoint? The use of the zooming tool (more on that later) adds a powerful punch to your shorter text.
Uploading images was easily done, as well as video. Video was a simple matter of finding a video on You Tube and copying the address into a text box. Voila, the video shows up! How easy is that? Prezi shines with its capability to add effects, enhancements and pathways. The ability to add text in a fluid, non-linear way can enhance your message incredibly well. Text can be inserted sideways, angled, or upside down for that matter. Then, creating pathways moves your presentation from text to text, aligning it so it is always readable and upright. Visually, it can look like you are on a rollercoaster ride. Using your zooming tool allows you to …well…zoom in an out of groups. Text, images and video can be grouped with the framing tool to ensure readability. Creating pathways is simple; clicking from one frame to another allows you to move from text to text in a variety of ways, adding to the effect of movement, again helping you to explore images in depth, focus on certain sections of text, and to create more visual power for your presentation.
Collaboration is where 21st century students are at! Prezi allows you to easily collaborate on the same Prezi at the same time. Simply click on the Meeting tab, and a box pops up with a URL. Click to copy the URL and send it to up to 10 people. The link lasts for a week, and all 10 people can be editing the Prezi at the same time (this does require that all users have a Prezi account).
Drawbacks? Prezi does not allow for audio, which is fine if you are using it to enhance a speaking presentation or for teaching, but is disappointing if you want audio enhancement. I was also disappointed in the limited variety of fonts (and backgrounds) I was able to use. I found Prezis took more thought and work than a straightforward PowerPoint. As well, you need to be careful not to overuse the zooming and pathway tools. Too much of a bouncing, zooming Prezi can leave people focused on the presentation, not the point.
Overall, however, the ability to zoom in on text or images, to frame, add arrows, and create pathways helps to make Prezi a visually stunning presentation tool.
Personal use of the tool
This is a tool that I would tend to use more in my professional life than personal. I could see it being used for presenting at a wedding…way better than the traditional slideshow! Also, the Prezi blog talks about using Prezi meeting for an office birthday card! What about using Prezi for the dreaded “Let me show you the pictures of my trip!”? As a student, I think it would be a great way to present my learning rather than a paper!
Professional use of the tool
I think that Prezis would be a wonderful new tool for students (and teachers) who are Power Pointed out. Prezi gives them tools to use the visual aids that students today respond to so well. Prezi meeting is a fantastic way for them to collaborate on one presentation simultaneously. Prezi does not only have to be used for research projects. Why not use it for persuasive writing or book talks?
Paul Hill’s Prezi talks about how using Prezi as a teaching tool allows you to: move your lesson in a nonlinear way, focus attention on critical text, zoom in on images to help emphasize a point, and embed videos to enhance your teaching, increasing the power of your lesson.
On the Prezi blog, Radnai shows how Rob Newberry is using Prezi meeting for student collaboration: check out this video of grade six students using Prezi meeting to collaborate.
Ashraf, (2010). Stun the audience by using Prezi instead of PowerPoint. Retrieved from http://dottech.org/tipsntricks/16061
Hill, P. (2010). Thoughts on using Prezi as a teaching tool. Retrieved from http://dottech.org/tipsntricks/16061
Radnai, Z. (2010). Video: Prezi meeting in the classroom. Retrieved from http://blog.prezi.com/2010/10/11/video-prezi-meeting-in-the-classroom/