February 28 2013

Twitter – a Powerful Communication Tool for Educators

To date, Twitter has been in a holding pattern for me. I know I was not alone when I told myself I had no need for another networking site and “At first glance, Twitter [didn’t] appear to hold much value.” The networking tool first interested me years ago, when the buzz primarily revolved in and around business professionals. When students started getting on board, I stepped away from the application entirely. I will forever be a true advocate of keeping personal and professional lives separate. And so Twitter was left in the bag of tools, unopened. However, the article, How Twitter can be used as a powerful educational tool” by authors Alan November and Brian Mull, identifies what I feel is a vital key to making Twitter a productive tool for communication and collaboration. Not only do the authors clarify the mystery of the hashtag, they also share what I consider the key component in making this tool fundamentally useful. “If you’re interested in a topic, but you don’t know of a hashtag that will be helpful with your research, simply do a search in Twitter using a keyword rather than a hashtag. Then, scan the results to see what hashtags people are using when they are discussing that particular topic.” Finally some meaning to the hashtag process! With the help of this article, I can now understand how Twitter can bring “authentic experiences to our students”.  Guess it’s time to open that bag of tools and join the global education community on Twitter. Sweet Tweets!

Mrs. C

February 17 2013

Web2.0 Tools support Community & Collaboration

BP – Web2.0 Collaborative instruction. Week 4 – Community, Collaboration & Mind42.Two Business Lessons using Wallwisher

This week’s task: ” illustrate your understanding of how Web 2.0 tools can support community and collaboration…”.  According to Collaboration, a 21st Century Skill: Three Free Sites to Help Students Understand Collaboration, “Collaboration is a Twenty-First Century Skill. It is also a process and that all students need to experience it in order to fully comprehend its potential.” With the onslaught of technology in today’s business world & global communities, the inclusion of communication & collaboration in the classroom is made possible with the use of many Web2.0 tools.

In My Mind Map, Collaboration in Education, I explored the possible application of common web2.0 tools, and their use in the classroom to enhance these 21st century skills.

In the right hand thread, I mapped out two potential class projects to enhance subject areas in my Introduction to Business and Business II classes.   In both branches, I identified how with the use of the collaboration tool, Wallwisher, discussion and class communication could be encouraged.  Note sections outline introductory prompts for each lesson, tool/tech review, appropriate use of the tool and an in-class follow-up of the information shared.  I included links to pertinent sources of information and notes to explain and define bullets where applicable.


Mrs C.

February 15 2013

Valuable Contribution through Collaboration

Student Comments: Moving from Participation to Contribution by Maryellen Wiemer,PhD from Faculty Focus, identifies an interesting distinction between a student’s contribution to class discussion and simple participation. Originally quoted by Gioia, “Participation connotes involvement, sharing and simply taking part. . .”  Contribution implies “…intellectual involvement and sharing of knowledge and knowledge construction. Concentrating on contribution causes people to think about what they are going to say, instead of simply blurting out ill-considered opinions, superficial observation, and irrelevant personal examples. ” (p. 16) Teachers have struggled with this classroom dilemma for decades. Many strategies have been suggested (and employed) in an effort to steer the learning experience toward the best possible outcome; to encourage contribution as opposed to superficial participation.

One could make a strong argument for the use of web2.0 tools and an online discussion model as a means to accomplish these  preferred, higher-quality contributions as outlined by Wiemer and Gioia. The article describes what students typically accomplish when making a contribution to any discussion. These include providing summaries; making observations; integrating concepts; and asking questions that lead to further discussion.  New technology tools such as blogs, wikis, wallwisher, Diigo and others, also achieve this same interactive and collaborative result. Online discussions naturally allow for Gioia’s “think breaks” where participants can take the time necessary to reflect and add worthwhile, thoughtful comments. Successful online environments are not only nurturing collaboration but also  accomplishing valuable contributions with a much larger, authentic audience and engaging students through natural inquiry and creativity. Online “we are hearing contributions that promote understanding, develop knowledge, and result in discussions where student voices dominate”.

Reference: “Student Comments: Moving from Participation to Contribution | Faculty Focus.” Faculty Focus Student Comments Moving from Participation to Contribution Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2013.