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.