So I'm done with the class and I'll try to recap what I've learned and share some helpful sites, some of which you've probably heard of but some you may not have.
Overall, we looked at a lot of sites that have to do with searching and networking, online collaboration, that sort of thing. I honestly will use some of them to enhance my teaching because, as the one article I read put it (and I've thought for a while now), the entire educational system needs a giant overhaul because its methods lag about 20 years behind the rest of the world in terms of getting information to students and processing it. I admit this with a sigh, because I like teaching grammar and vocab in something of a vacuum, and I don't think anything will top reading a chapter of a book (a REAL book, not online and not on a Kindle) and analyzing it in class. However, I think as the educational system continues this lag, students will become more and more disconnected from school because it has so little to do with their lives outside of school.
Think about it: They text, they IM, they spend hours on MySpace, Facebook, and playing RPGs (role-playing games for those who don't know: Going online and playing a game while hundreds of others log in and play the same game at the same time), some of them blog...It's everywhere. Yet we rarely access this way of living in the classroom. It's a sort of changing of the guard. I don't think computers will ever replace talking and writing on real paper, but they do have a place and we as teachers need to respect that when our students go into the working world, it's one dominated by these interactive sorts of sites and ways of communicating, so why not teach using those same methods sometimes?
Now that I've lectured (sorry if I went on; I feel strongly about this), let me cue you in on a few cool sites:
In case you haven't heard of this, Delicious (or del.icio.us) is an on-line bookmarking site. You know how annoying it is when your bookmarks are all on your work computer and you go home and rats, what was that site? Now you can just save them all on Delicious and access them from anywhere. You can add tags to remind you what they're about (like the ones I use for my posts: "puppy", "work-related", "fun stuff", etc.) and you can share them with others if you want--and you can see others' related to yours. Like if I have a site I like about composting but I want to know more, I can find others' bookmarked sites about it. Cool stuff.
- Backflip.com and furl.net are similar
The Education Podcast Network
This network has all sorts of podcasts that you can learn from on tons of different subjects. I like the idea of podcasts because you only have to listen; you don't have to sit in front of the computer.
Like YouTube but for teachers. Pretty self-explanatory. It's more informational and cuts through the ridiculous videos.
Very similar to GoogleDocs--It's a free online word processing program that lets you share documents and edit and save and all that without having to save it all to Microsoft Word...or pay for it. They've got spreadsheets and things, too. Nifty. I always worry about someone hacking in, but that's always a concern and a risk, yes?
It's a search engine that searches specific sites and then categorizes everything for you into specific headings, kind of like putting it into folders so you don't have to.
This one's another search engine but it searches blogs, posts, videos, and the like. It's more opinion than fact, but it has its place.
www.squidoo.com and rollyho.com are others but I didn't like them as much as search engines. I did like that the latter allows you to search under specific categories, like "research" or "news". Check them out as you like.
So that's my technical update for you. This evening around 3am we're beginning our journey to beautiful Tadoussac, Quebec for a week in my teeny car with us and the puppy. Wish us luck, because it's about 12 hours. We're doing it like this so we can avoid major traffic, cross over the border nice and early (no lines), and arrive in daytime so we don't have to find the place in the dark. We have books on CD and tape and a multi-charger unit for the car (three jacks and a USB cord--niiiiice. Got it at Target for ~$25.), a full tank of gas, it will be dark out, but we will not be wearing sunglasses. Hit it. (like the Blues Brothers reference there?)
I will have computer access but may or may not post--I'm on vacation, man. I plan to read, play games, chill with my in-laws (T's brother and sister will be there, and it's his mom/stepdad's place), go whale watching, hike, and have lots of fun. Sounds good to me!
So enjoy your week and don't tell me anything about The Dark Knight because I probably won't see it until my return, at least not in English, and since I don't speak Quebecois, I doubt I'll see it up there. No Batman, Le Chevalier noir pour moi.
Be good, my dears!