Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Teary-Eyed Farewells

As I was looking at posts on Facebook tonight, I couldn't help but notice that some people commented on how they are going to miss Brandon after they leave. Although the feeling quite hasn't hit me but yet for some it is a reality that has struck them. I recall the first week of school in the fall of 2008, wait a minute, I just had to confirm with my spouse if I started in 2008. It's true, two quick years have passed by just like that. It just seems like yesterday that I met some new friends and got reacquainted with others. I can remember Tom Skinner saying to us in his Professional Teacher class that "in the spring of 2010 when you guys are out teaching, there are some things you should know"... although some of what he shared with us scared me I have learned that there are "do's" and "don't's" in the teaching profession. Some of the stories he shared with us were pretty extreme, but helpful. One story I remember was about liability and to always keep a watchful eye on our classrooms, because anything can happen.
The more I reflect and remember, the more I start to become melancholy or blue, whatever you want to call it. I'm sure many of us will cross paths, either through technology or within the same school divisions. So, did I have a teary-eyed farewell? No. Will I? Maybe. But I highly doubt it. Just look forward and keep the good memories alive. See you all later and good luck.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The 2 Guest Speakers from MB. Education

On Wednesday, two gentlemen came from MB. Education to speak to the class about new technology. The first speaker, must have been Darren Kuropatwa and the other gentleman was Rob C. Fisher. Darren was a very passionate speaker and it was quite evident that he must love his job and enjoy what he does. He kept the class quite interested in his presentation. I really enjoyed some of the topics that he spoke about. Among some of the things that were discussed were digital footprints, publishing student work, RSS feeds, RFID's, ugly stuff, The Story of Wolves, the Story of Russia and the Story of Sticks.
Hearing about digital footprints again was something that we must realize is an important issue for our students and us personally. Students have to be warned about the dangers of posting pictures that could haunt them for the rest of their lives. It was good that Darren showed us the 2 sides of the coin such as publishing student work that is meaningful and positive versus posting student work without their permission or even your own children's embarrasing videos.
The RFID question that Darren asked us, which was "How many know what RFID chips are?" got me curious and interested in searching more information about it, just because I saw no hands go up in the classroom. His description of them was that Wal-mart uses them to keep inventory and it is technology talking to technology. The RFID tells the other machine, "Hey I'm right here and there are this many of us." That was Darren's description as I remember it.
All in all, I enjoyed Darren's talk and stories. He said that his stories about the wolves, Russia and sticks were about technology, content and pedagogy, in that order. What he said really got me thinking that as educator's, we really have to be careful with how technology is used. Just like he said, "flood the internet with the professional and positive things that you do."
Rob C. Fisher's presentation was cool too because he showed us ipadio, which to me was just exciting. The video he showed us on the six sense was also mind-blowing. Immediately after class I just had to tell my spouse about what I learned that day. I would recommend that you check out the video through TED talks. Just search for "six sense". You'll love it. Over and out.

The Final 2 Presentations

On Monday the last 2 groups had presented to the class about their findings on Skype/Elluminate and Games. I found both presentations very interesting as they held my interest longer than other presentations had before. Skype was impressive. I never knew about Skype or how it worked but after seeing the boys do their thing it got me curious. I'll probably explore more about Skype later on.
The second presentation was on games in the classroom. I loved this presentation for a couple of reasons. First, I like playing games. I'm not a die-hard gamer or anything but to tell you the truth the last gaming system that I've owned was a Super Nintendo. Ah... sorry I was getting nostalgic there for a moment. Anyways, the second reason I enjoyed Dan & Tyler's gaming presentation was because the technology that is being developed is just incredible. I was getting excited when I saw the painting program for X-box and the interactive menus/games that they are developing. All this technology is going to be useful for teaching, I think. What about you? Let me know. Over and out.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Presentations Part I

Hi folks, well you probably remember that this past week was presentation week for Mike Nantais's Internet for Educators class. From what I recall from this past weeks presentations were one of the topics called "CyberBullying" as presented by Jennalee Burch, Durga DeSilva, Laura Tully, Tannis Hart and Dani Coti. One highlight that I remember is the test we had to take in the beginning of the class that helped us determine whether we are cyberbullies ourselves. As it turns out, I found out that I'm a cybersaint, according to the test we took. That was good to know.
The other presentation was brought to you by my group including Joaney Lockhart and Katie Jensen, or as Nantais referred to us as, "Katie & Friends". If you don't recall, we talked about the History of the Internet. Later on, I think it was Wednesday, Tony, Dan M., Kelsey & Justin talked about "Filtering web-sites". I found there information useful because I didn't know that there are websites available for getting around Firewalls & restrictions placed on Servers being used in most school divisions. This was good to know because it'll mean being able to keep your eyes and ears open when using computer technology within the classroom. I remember in my first placement that the School Division had filters and a website blocker software.
Finally, I am looking forward to hearing more of the presentations this week. I'll fill you guys in the days to come. Over and out.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Day With Mr. Nantais

This past week we spent a day with Mr. Nantais, no one else. No guest speakers, just Nantais himself. Well actually that's not true, I almost forgot that Dr. Gatin popped in for the last half an hour to demonstrate the Second Life website and most of it's capabilities. I wanted to ask him a question but chickened out, because I thought I knew the answer. Want to know what I was going to ask? I was going to ask Dr. Gatin if Avatar's in Second Life can fight each other. Kind of silly right? Well, yeah but on that website Nantais asked us to read about Second life, some of the terms of that contract stated that if anyone was abusive or doing abusive things to other Avatars, then their Avatar can be removed. I suppose it means like verbal abuse. I guess I just wanted to know if Avatars can fight in Second Life.
Another question I had was if Avatars have occupations. For example, Second Life I find is similar to The Sims, but the Sims characters have jobs and stuff. Is it the same in Second Life? Let's say that an Avatar in Second Life has an occupation as a Mixed Martial arts fighter and so is there a fighting feature built into Second Life? I dunno. I should've just been a man and asked the question.
Finally, in closing, I wanted to get back into Mr. Nantais assignment. He had us check out the Web-Based Course from the Province. Dan Stepanik and I found the course very useful because everything is laid out for us to use, probably. Apart from the layout of the webpage, the content is very useful. I'll use it as a resource. The end.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Howard & Donald come to BU (not Stern or Duck)

Howard Griffith & Donald Girourard came to our class on Feb. 1. I remembered to write my comments about these guys. What I enjoyed about their presentation was the activities that they gave us. For one activity we were asked to brainstorm about what sort of people can take Distant Education. Among some of our lists, some groups responded that students who dropped out, and/or got expelled, pregnant or incarcerated would be potential candidates.
I was surprised to find out that the province does provide distant education in 3 forms and for free (I think). The first was I.S.O, (Independent Study Optional) where the student works at their own pace but has 12 months to complete the course. The second was T.M.O., which stands for Teacher Mediated Option, where the student phones, (yes phones) an instructor and asks questions or support for the material. The third option is W.B.C., and this stands for Web-Based Course option. Learning must take place online through a virtual classroom.
In Sherry Peden's class, "Teaching Aboriginal Studies", this woman from the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Center (MFNERC) gave a presentation about the services that they provide and she mentioned that they are developing virtual classrooms for distant education delivery. I thought that this was a neat idea. As an educator, with this knowledge, I can assist some students in this path or tell them about it if they drop-out or whatever their circumstance. It was a good presentation and useful to learn about.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Shawn "The Google Apps Guy" Kleebaum comes to Internet Education class

Shawn Kleebaum was our guest speaker on Feb 1. He spoke about Google Apps. and gave us an overview of how it works. He also gave us a Prezi tutorial. I did not realize that Google Apps also have a Google Education application. Most School Divisions block things. Google Ed. is "sneaky" way to get a Google Apps. account. Shawn also said that data is stored in the US and If somebody would say things that bash the US, the border control can stop them from entering the US.
Mr.Kleebaum also said that some Google Gadgets are inappropriate for students, and as educators we have to be aware of this. That is something that I didn't know about too. With Google Docs You can export files onto Word. Shawn also should us some course Wikis for Boissevaine School. He said he has a gmail account for the school, and if one time he erased data from their school calendar from his Blackberry and only realized later that it showed up on the school website. Ha! Shawn also did surveys for the school and received alot of feedback. Finally, he spoke about Picassa and showed us the extent of producing fully fledged high-def pictures through Picassa.
Shawn's presentation was useful for me because it showed me what I can do with Google Applications. There was tons of ideas for using it in the classroom and school. One idea that I can do in the future is develop a website so that my students can find classroom information on there. I can also get them to do their own blogs too. Very well done Mr. Kleebaum.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Glen "The Researcher" Gatin analyzes Multi-user Virtual Environments

Dr. Glen Gatin first asked us whether the class as a whole did blogs before entering the "Internet for Educators." Most heads nodded no. Then he asked if we ever heard about VOIP's. Again all the heads shook sideways indicating "nay". He did tell us that VOIP stood for Voice Over Internet Phones, or similarly, Skype. Then the class went "AH".

  • Glen spoke of the following information as well. Webinair is Elluminate, which is like a Seminar but in the form of the web.
  • There are different types of Web browsers, such as Internet Explorer. France banned using this particular program for reasons unknown to me. Other web browsers are Firefox, Safari, Google and Chrome.
  • Google Apps- Docs, Sites, Gmail, Calendar, Reader, Blogger, Wave and Chrome. Wave is like Wiki's, Docs and gmail.
  • Social Bookmarking- Delicious, Diigo
  • Microblogs- Twitter, Plurk, Laconica

One interesting thing that Dr. Gatin told us about was that people using Twitter reported about feeling the earthquake in Haiti and reported the aftershocks even before the U.S. earthquake seismic activity sensors could. There was a 2 minute advantage. I thought that was very interesting.

Dr. Gatin explained the term Constructionism which means that people learn better when they build things.

He spoke of a computer program called Second Life which took close to half of the class just on the topic. He shared the following information about games. He said that "games hook people." Second life is based on the game 'Doom'. Students can invest hours on reading the manual and researching. When it came to research, I thought of looking for codes and cheats in an attempt to conquer a game.

I believe that games do serve the purpose of research, reading and developing intrapersonal skills (talking to peers about the game). Among some of the discussions students might talk about are likes vs. dislikes, challenges, stages, levels, cheats, codes, bosses, tactics and strategies. They can collaborate and do team work together, such as team gaming which develops cooperation skills usually towards one common goal, which is to beat the game.

In Second Life, you download the program but it requires a high-end computer made for gaming. You then create an account with Second-life and then they'll make you an "AVATAR". Woah. He said sooner or later, with interactions through e-mail, we will someday create holographic representations of ourselves but in the form of an Avatar. COOL!
Dr. Gatin mentioned that he sat in a lecture through his Avatar and heard a guest speaker lecture then afterwards they could ask questions. He even said that in Second Life any avatar can go to Harvard, pay for a course and get a credit. I was suprised that some U.S. colleges such as MIT and Harvard were in the game.

Dr. Gatin should us the virtual world of Second Life. Each area of exploration is built through the use of a server. Each server is one gridon the Second Life map. When you enter a grid you are interacting with the server. The map grid is similar to how google maps works but for the Second Life world. Wonderful eh?

Among one of the last and most interesting points that Dr. Gatin shared with us is that economically low places can make money through Second Life. They can go into businesses and help their situations. One thing I forgot to mention is that in Second Life there are opportunites for Avatars to make money, called Linden Dollars. This money can be exchanged, from my understanding, to actual currency for instance CDN or U.S. dollars. He gave us an example of someone living up north, say in Pukatawakan, who can make an account and create some money even if they don't have a job. They can spend say 6 hours and make $. Very, very interesting.

Overall, my interested was piqued and I would like to research further on his topic. For some ideas, I would like to see if there are ways to use Second Life on a northern reserve. I wonder if anyone is even using it on a Northern Reserve? I wonder if high speed internet connections exist in a northern reserve too. It would be worth checking out and used as one solution to help Aboriginal people to gain some cash flow into their communities. In closing, Dr. Gatin, said that one woman made 1 million dollars selling real estate on Second Life. Check out the website yourself and tell me what you think. Steven Leveque saying "over and out".

Friday, January 22, 2010

Couch Jumping Regina Professor Lectures to BU students

On Wednesday, January 20th, 2010, Dr. Alec Couros presented to the "Internet for Educators" class through Elluminate live, which is a connection through the internet/webcam. With Dr. Courous amazing computer abilities he was able to send us pictures, links and even powerful "heartwarming" footage of a man giving hugs to complete strangers. That footage was among one of the many highlights shown throughout Alec's 60 minute plus presentation.

In agreement with alot of my colleagues I was very impressed with the fact that Alec was not among us in body, but through "tiny packets of information in the form of binary code, then translated through a webserver/page and spoken through speakers". It is a great form of communication and I can see the potential for long-distance education and guest speakers to visit classrooms all over the world. I also enjoyed that Alec was able to answer any questions that we sent to him through chat.

Overall, the presentation we had was very beneficial for any teacher in education. Alec showed us tons of information, sites and technology that can be incorporated in the classroom. Most of the time, learning about all this information seems overwhelming because technology is growing so fast that it seems impossible to keep up. I suppose that it all comes down to keeping websurfing time under control and trying not to get addicted to websites, such as Facebook. Let me know what you think. Steven Leveque here saying, "Over and out".

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Guest Speaker John Evan's Visits Brandon University!

Internet for Educators had a special guest speaker visit their classroom today (Jan. 13, 2009). His name is John Evans and from the look of his badge, he's probably an employee with the Provincial government or working with them. He had a lot to say about Literacy with Internet Communication Technology (ICT), PLN (Professional/Personal Learning Networks and RSS feeds. Before his presentation I had no idea what a PLN and RSS feed were, really. Some of the tutorials and webpages he placed before the classes eyes were useful and helpful and geared towards teaching. John mentioned he was a teacher for the last 29 years or so and it shows. He was knowledgable in the content area, well-prepared and kept the class focused (for the most part).
What I enjoyed about John's presentation was that he allowed the class to follow along with him on our computers while he browsed on the web showing us various websites. At one moment during his speech he said loudly, "okay everyone I want you to put your keyboards upside down on your towers, and turn off the monitors..." then I realized he was just demonstrating to the class that in the past that is what some teachers did to make sure that the students were paying attention. I was typing notes into Microsoft Word when he was saying this and thought he was getting mad at us.
Overall, I enjoyed the presentation because there were hands-on activities to do as well. I would like to read what my classmates wrote and see their thoughts.

A Biggest Loser Show for Aboriginals?

So I was watching my favorite show last night, "The Biggest Loser" with my wife and we started talking about the show towards the ending. Among our discussion the health issues that Aboriginal people are facing such as diabetes, obesity and food choices came up. As we were talking I had this brilliant idea that what if someone (perhaps I'll research or try it later) were to document, film and record a show were an Aboriginal person living on a reserve was trying to lose weight and get healthy. The only thing is that they are trying to do this while living on a welfare budget (most welfare payments for a single person is between $195-$215, depending on which community you reside in e.g. a Northern community versus a Prairie reservation).
If most people don't know this, most Aboriginal communities have sky high unemployment rates, so the majority of people living on the reserve are living on welfare payments and trying to survive from month to month. Thankfully there is the option of living off of the land, e.g. hunting, fishing and trapping. Finally on top of this the price of food while living in a northern reservation is catastrophic. For example, the price of fresh fruit compared to buying it in an urban place would be so much different, due to the price of shipping/freight. I recall seeing a jug of milk sold for $12, compared to what we pay down south which is $3.50 or so.
I would like to see a show like this, whether it is made for T.V. (who knows perhaps it may get international recognition or picked up by A.P.T.N.), or documented and shown on YouTube or something. I'm just trying to get the ball rolling here folks, let me know what you think.