This week I took a different tack to finish my assignment. I decided to create a short video to introduce viewers to a couple of networks that I found interesting and that I could use in my own practice to find new ideas, learn new techniques and perhaps share some of the things I've been doing with technology. These networks are dedicated to a narrow purpose or area of interest. While social networks like Facebook, twitter, linkedin, and Google+ can be used in much the same way, the networks I chose were both created using the .ning web 2.0 application that facilitates the creation of a web presence for the network that can be used to curate content by network members.
I chose to present The Interactive Whiteboard Revolution as one of my sites largely due to the impact that having an interactive whiteboard has had on my teaching. Prior to incorporating this technology, most images were static or crudely done on an overhead projector. An interactive whiteboard is a dynamic tool that is easy to customize for various content, able to project audio/video content that can be manipulated, and accessible by students. I use this technology daily, and have for the past four years, to present new information and engage students with content in an active way. As Jerome Berg stated in his interview with Lainie McCann in one of this week's videos, the interactive whiteboard is a "wonderful way to have [students] engaged, have them building. They're building their understanding through active encounters with content." (Berg, 2008) However, when you have used a tool for a period of time, it can be easy to always use it in the same way. The main reason I chose to explore The Interactive Whiteboard Revolution is that with familiarly comes complacency. I have used this tool in much the same way for a long time and have developed proficiency with it, but I know there is probably so much more that can be done with this technology. Joining the Interactive Whiteboard Revolution network offers the opportunity to learn some new uses for this "old" technology to impact the educational experience for my students.
The second network I chose to explore and present is Literacy in the Digital Classroom. I chose this network because literacy is of paramount importance to students of all ages and harnessing the power of digital tools to teach literacy is a cornerstone of the Common Core State Standards. Books are no longer sufficient to teach students the depth of content required by these standards. They need to be augmented by digital content. Many of the standards require the inclusion of multiple sources of information and the Internet is, by design, multiple sources of information. Joining this web network provides the opportunity to discuss, learn and share various strategies to not only meet standards, but also to engage learners at the level necessary to become literate in the 21st Century. Also, I have always felt literacy to be one area where I am never certain if I am providing the best instruction for my students. There are so many different ways to teach literacy. By joining this network, I am sure to find new, interesting, and engaging ways to teach literacy to my students.
We live in a time when it has never been easier to connect with people and ideas. The Internet has made it possible to learn from diverse experts across the globe. To not make those connections seems a waste of resources and, in my opinion, shows a lack of commitment to the profession of education.
McCann, L. (Host). (2008). CUE Live 2008: Use of an educational network for google earth project. Retrieved on November 17, 2009, from http://www.blip.tv/file/725529