Archive for the ‘collaboration’ Category

On Wednesday we completed the second week of OpenPD Round 3 and it was a great success. Conversations centered wikis, widgets, how to embed objects / widgets into a wiki. I learned about customizing embed codes when placing videos in a blog or wiki.
Jamie Gustin explained when embedding video clips from YouTube/TeacherTube you should customize the embed code so you do not inadvertently copy and paste code which allows for related videos to be embedded. I had no idea related videos could be pulled in through an embed code, very valuable information.

  • When you have a YouTube or TeacherTube video you would like to embed, to the left of the video there is a space where you are able to copy the embed code, well if continue to look to the right of the word embed you will see a customize link.
  • Click on the customize link and there is a radio button to check which says don’t include related videos. I would suggest always having this checked.

Scott Weidig and Bud Hunt also joined us in class and in our Skype call. Each has had experience using Zoho, another online collaborative tool with many components similar to Google. Zoho contains a wiki as well as many other features as well. Never having used Zoho myself, they both made excellent contributions to our session on the features of Zoho they use and their experiences.


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We are preparing for our second round of Open Professional Development – Social Software in the Classroom. Our first round was very successful and we are inviting anyone who would like to learn more about the free online tools available to use in your classroom teaching or building collaboration to join us in this learning experience as well. The class in the fall was collaborative and engaging in both conversation and the sharing of ideas, we look forward to the same atmosphere and hope to see you there.
When – Class will begin on January 23rd and continue for five consecutive weeks beginning at 6:30PM Eastern Daylight Time, please check your time zone here.
Skype – If you don’t have a Skype account you will want to create one ahead of time, it is free is what I will use to moderate discussion during class via a chatroom. To join please send a message to me, robin.ellis1, so I will have your contact information before we start. We recommend you use a headset to participate in class conversations; this will decrease the likelihood of an echo effect.
Class Wiki – Our class wiki (with the schedule and participant portfolios) is located here http://openpd.wikispaces.com. To join us, please join the class wiki.
Attendance – For teachers who are not taking the course for in-service credit, perfect attendance is not required.
We have geared this class for those new to using web 2.0 technologies in their classroom practices, but all who have experience with online tools are welcome to as well help us demonstrate what we have all found valuable. Hope to see you all soon.

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ss07.jpgWednesday evening was the final night of the Social Software for the Classroom which Darren Draper and I facilitated together. I want to thank all who participated, it was a wonderful experience for me and I learned a great deal from everyone, especially Darren. We used tools new to all of us, tried a new concept in professional development as well testing the notion of providing a place for anyone who wanted to learn about web 2.0 tools to come together from around the world to learn, share and collaborate.

I also want to express my gratitude to Darren for being willing to take that leap in asking anyone reading his blog to share in the teaching and participate with him in an open professional development session. I learned a great deal from him and with him; he is a wonderful example of one who truly does believe in collaboration. He has written a great post on his blog about our last session, please follow the link and take a look. We have plans to hold another class during the winter; we will let you know when we have the dates set.

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Well our first “open” professional staff development session of Social Software in the Classroom took place on Wednesday September 19, and everything that could have gone wrong did for Darren and I. It was an example of technology at its best and worst within the 3 hour time span. We thought we had prepared well, here were our thoughts, and by the way we had tried out the ustream.tv and yugma/skype ahead of time with several other people joining us! Remember, Darren is in Utah and I am PA, we planned on the audio/video stream so all could follow along with what we were doing and participate in conversations during class.

  • audio/video stream original idea, Darren started the stream, I could not connect, nor could anyone else
  • move to ustream.tv, seemed to work well, audio issues caused difficulties so everyone could not hear
  • switched to Yugma/Skype, worked but had people in different chats, we started in one skypechat room and had to move to another, confusing
  • Sue Waters came to our rescue and offered us a room in Elluminate which saved us, literally

Despite all of these hurdles, the evening demonstrated the extent people will go to help one another in this participatory culture. Once we were started in Elluminate we were able to show Karl Fisch’s video and have conversations about its content and the implications for teachers and students.

I have never taught an online course before so this was new to me, the idea of being able to share screens and talk to each other during our presentations was reassuring, knowing even though we would be roughly 2,000 miles apart we would still be able to see and hear each other, because of the difficulties we went through I learned quite a bit about how I teach. Darren and I worked together on Thursday, talking about the class and what we would change to make the rest of the sessions better. I also told him what I had been going through the night before, which I believe anyone who has ever taught will relate to. Sitting at home, computer connected, online through skype, the connection to Darren made, knowing he is starting, tells me to pick up the video stream, I try – nothing, no connection for me, the co teacher, panic! As the evening moved along, we were able to keep our audio connections, share screens, etc. and have our conversations. What struck me most was the realization of how much I depend on visual cues when I teach. Whether it is with another colleague, co teaching, or the visual cues from my students, I know how to pace the session depending on their non verbal feedback. All of a sudden I found myself with no visual or audio cues. Darren was having some technical issues with headsets in his lab, so when he was away from his computer, I was completely in the dark, with no one to look at or listen to in order to gauge what to do next. I was thinking to myself, do I go ahead and keep talking about how to navigate within wikispaces, how to edit? Knowing he was trying to troubleshoot, I didn’t want to ask any questions, he wasn’t close to his computer, do I ask a question and make him stop what he is doing to walk back to the computer, press the mic, answer me? Or do I wait patiently hoping he will resolve the issue at hand, come back and say we are ready to move ahead? My point being, if we had been in the same room, I would have known what to do, I could have read the faces of the others there, assessed what was going on and made a decision that would have kept the class moving while freeing my colleague to do what was necessary to get everyone in the same place. Something I learned about myself, something I had not thought of prior to this course or as part of teaching. We are looking forward to the rest of the sessions and hope any and all interested will join us at http://socialsoftware07.wikispaces.com Wednesday September 26 6:30PM Eastern Daylight Time.

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