Coming to the End…

As the (quick) semester comes to an end, I always feel overwhelmed after reading the syllabus in the beginning of taking courses.  But as the weeks go on, I get lost in the readings and projects, that I completely forget about that feeling of uncertainly.  This course wasn’t any different.  After looking at everything that we needed to accomplish for this course, I thought, “How am I going to finish everything in this course, my other course, and take care of my son?”  Not only did I learn different web tools (ex. Twitter, Blogging, creating an instructional Website, etc.) I learned how to manage my time more effectively and efficiently.  Thankfully I learned this skill in the summer so when I return back to teaching in the fall on top of taking two courses; I will already have the skills needed to be successful.  

Every course that I take for my Master’s degree, the more it confirms my decision of choosing this major because I have enjoyed taking every course so far.   I’ve learned how to create podcasts, use Photoshop, create a website, design a screencast with Camtasia, etc.  It’s crazy to me to think that I will be finished and graduating in May of 2014.  From the first day of undergraduate to now, I have enjoyed my college experience, whether it is living on campus to online courses.  Perhaps, I may go back to college for my doctoral degree, but for now I will focus on my last four courses! J

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The Tribulations of Moodle

For everyone reading this, I hope that I’m not the only one having difficulties of using Moodle.  Unfortunately, my eagerness had gotten the best of me, since I was overly zealous in my ability to complete this assignment due to the fact I had taken an HQT course in Moodle.  Don’t misunderstand me though; I thoroughly enjoy challenging myself when it comes to technology.  I’m the type of person who likes to dive into technology through exploration.  So like any other project, this one wasn’t any different.  However, I not only used the information on Learn, but I conduct my own research on the internet to find answers to some of my questions.  The internet is a wonderful tool that is full of great information!  To my knowledge (hopefully I’m not overreaching) but I believe my Moodle account is complete. Until I hear otherwise…..

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Weather vs. Technology

Over 33,000 lighting strikes hit northeast Ohio this afternoon, along with severe thunderstorms, flash floods, and tornado warnings. Blissfully unaware that severe weather was rolling in; my 4 month old son and I were just getting ready to go for a walk in our neighborhood, when my iPhone alert message appeared on my phone.  It was warning me that severe thunderstorms and a flood warning were in effect for my county.  Ironically, I was just finishing putting on sunscreen for our walk because the sun was still shining and it was a beautiful day.  I would have continued with my intensions of going for a walk, but I’m not going to get caught in the middle of a rain storm with a 4 month old.   Within a matter of 20 minutes, the sun dipped behind dark storm clouds that rapidly rolled in.  As we sat in our living room watching Fox 8 weather report, I heard meteorologist André talk about seeking shelter and either turning up your TVs or bring your iPad, iPhones, etc. with you to keep tabs on the tornados warnings.  That’s when I realized how important our iPhones or Androids are when it comes to severe weather because as he finished saying that my TV cable started to freeze due to the weather.  But my iPhone still continued to work and provide me with the updates of the weather even when I was in my basement without a TV.  When weather becomes so severe that it knocks out cable, landlines, and power, (typically) we can rely on our iPhones and Androids to continue to work to provided necessary information on hand.  What a day!

Thanks to DVR, I was able to record Andre talking about the importance of technology.  Check it out, it’s only 15 seconds long.  Click here.

 

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7th Inning Stretch

I’m not a huge baseball fan, but as I sit here in my study, I realize that I could use a “7th inning stretch” and thankfully that time is drawing near the end!  My days of working on graduate homework until midnight-one o’clock in the morning is almost over (that is until the fall semester begins).  As I sit here thinking that I should have completed my graduate degree before I had my first child, I realize that I’m more proactive that I have ever been.   Maybe it’s because my priorities are now to be with my son when he is awake, so I need to manage my time and schedule more effectively, or maybe it’s because I have no choice but to plow through graduate school before he begins walking, which would make completing course assignments that much harder.  Or perhaps, it’s both. 🙂  As the title of this blog states, I am in the 7th inning stretch and looking forward to a summer break (even if it’s only a month long) to devote completely to being with my son.  Even though I have really enjoyed learning new technologies that I have never learned before (ex. blogging, twitter, creating website, etc) it will be nice to have a summer break without homework!  So here’s to the last week of graduate courses for the summer !

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To Podcast or Not to Podcast…That is the Question

I find it interesting that I think of myself as technology savvy, but have never (before my graduate courses) read or even had my own blog, participated in a wiki project, had a Twitter account (but to be fair, I prefer Facebook), or created my own website.  I find it astounding that there is SO much that technology and the internet has to offer.  That I wonder, will I ever be up-to-date, or technology savvy when there is such a vast amount of technology that is continuously changing and advancing?

Take podcasting as an example.  When creating my podcast, I thought about the structure and organization of how to present the information (about endangered species) so that my listeners would be able to follow along, and not become confused or disinterested.  So I began with creating an outline of how it should be organized, prior to recording the information.   Through organization and planning, I am able to help the listeners follow along to the podcast, which helps the audience (especially students) obtain necessary information from it.  Personally, I am 100% a visual learner.  I prefer and find it easier for me to understand and acquire new information when I can visually see it, rather than listening.  So, when thinking about incorporating podcasts into the classroom, I am torn. As the (slightly tweaked saying goes) “To Podcast, or not to podcast…that is the question”.  My students (specifically students with disabilities) need to not only hear the information but to visually see it as well to help them obtain and retain the information.  So my initial thought is….maybe the students can have an option between podcasts (audio) and screencasts (visual/audio) to acquire the same information.  This way, we are addressing all students’ needs, while giving them the opportunity to use the tool that works best for them.  Thoughts?

 

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Website Selection?

There are several different types of websites to choose from when creating your own webpage.  The problem that I was having was making the decision of which one to use.  In my previous graduate courses, I have always used Google Sites which is easy to use and I’m already familiar with how to use it.  However, it doesn’t provide me with a lot choices regarding the layout, design, and appearance.  I know this project is supposed to focus on the information and content that is incorporated into the website, but I also believe that the aesthetics is what brings and keeps viewers on your website.

After reading through the discussion boards, I heard how great Dreamweaver was, but how challenging it is to use (which I don’t mind learning a new program, however I don’t have that kind of time).  So I searched Weebly and discovered that it was fairly easy to use and provides more options than Google Sites. I’ve always used Google Sites up until this point, but I really like the layouts, designs, and appearance that Weebly has to offer.  I’m curious in which website program my classmates are using.

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WebQuests, Not a Scavenger Hunt…

When I first read through the class syllabus and saw that we were going to be creating WebQuests, I was excited and had all these different ideas that I wanted to explore and incorporate in my project.  However, after exploring and reading the articles about WebQuests, I realized it wasn’t just an activity that students conducted to find facts (such as a scavenger hunt).  That wasn’t the purpose of WebQuests, nor does it promote higher level thinking skills.  As stated in the article, WebQuests: Can They Be Used to Improve Critical Thinking Skills in Students? it had mentioned that there are two types of WebQuests, short-term (1-3 days) and long-term (more than 3 days) which will build on student existing knowledge. My WebQuest that I created is a long-term lesson, between five to six class periods/days (see pacing guide on my WebQuest website for more details).  So I erased the thoughts of having students find information on their endangered species which was presented more like “busy” work.  That would have been too simple and a complete waste of time.  I realized that I had the opportunity to have students work in groups to build their thinking skills together.  As a group, the students would move away from understanding and knowledge based thinking, and into evaluating and synthesizing the information. I’m excited to implement this WebQuest.

To view my WebQuest, click on the link below…

https://sites.google.com/a/kent.edu/lauren-bisslers-webquest/home

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