Wednesday, March 22, 2006

NIU: Trends in Composition

Social spaces -- if these are habits and ways students network and share information, do they belong in the classroom?


No, really, MySpace



The TLT Group's Exploration Guide for Educational Uses of Blogs and Wikis offers a really good resource for help guides, articles, and other resources.

Here's another use of Wiki's.
This is in fact a Wiki used on composition (quoted from: Penn State's Wiki-Based Pilot Program NEXT\TEXT ):
Penn State's wiki farm pilot program is one example. It allows teachers of freshman composition to propose and teach interdisciplinary wiki-based courses. Instructors Richard Doyle, Jeff Pruchnic, and Trey Conner argue that students in the pilot program produce better work than students enrolled in traditional versions of the course. The peer-reviewed wiki environment contextualizes grammar and mechanics, and motivates students to proof their work carefully in order to impress their audience. Critical thinking skills are also honed, as students compete to post the best, most original argument.
To visit Wiki Farm:

Books Won't All be Read: Some will be Played:
In each class, students will play a "chapter" of the overall story, one that contains a beginning, middle, and an end, and last about 30 to 40 minutes. From: Revolution, one of the game prototypes at MIT's Education Arcade.

And what of reading books online?
In a post titled, "The developerWorks Power Architecture challenge: Man's best friend (outside of a dog)" Joshua Fruhlinger writes:

But when it comes to the books that make up the bulk of our reading lives, the vast majority of us are still reading words printed with ink on paper bound with glue and string.The reasons for this are numerous and pretty easy to rattle off:
  • E-books can be physically uncomfortable to read (whether you're sitting at a desk looking at a monitor or squinting at a tiny PDA screen).
  • They're not portable if you have to read them on a desktop computer; if you read them on a laptop or PDA, you can't read if you run out of power.
  • There's a number of often incompatible formats that the files come in.
  • And the user's ability to access the book's content is often restricted by various digital rights management technologies. (It's notable that the Baen Free Library, one of the more successful e-book outfits, gives away books that are DRM-free -- and, for that matter, free as in beer. I guess it's easy to be successful when you don't expect anyone to pay you!).
On the other hand, old-school paper books are generally easily portable, use reflected light and are thus easy on the eyes, don't need batteries, and can be read as often as the reader wants and even lent to others. And they're still readable after the sort of abuse that would send any piece of electronics to the scrap heap.
Fruhlinger's words ring true. Thus, textbooks that try to do online what they do in print will not succeed as ebooks for all the reasons above. The questions to ask are these --what are students being asked to learn? how can they best be taught? A book is good for supporting a lot of ways to learn, but that codex book meant to be used/read in codex ways won't work nearly as well on screen as it does in print. So what does work online? In what context? How will it be taught and within what virtual educational context? How will assignments be made, learning measured? And and will teachers and students engage and build upon the concepts, ideas, and information delivered in this new book? Figure out that, and you've figured out ebooks in education. And you can figure those books won't look anything like books. Wonder what we'll call them?

Clear Your Throats: Podcasting Is Easier than Ever

iTunesU: Apple's resource for educational podcasting.

Fern Shen, writing in the Washington Post, "IPods Fast Becoming New Teacher's Pet," describes how some schools have gone from banning students from bringing IPods into the classroom to using the technology for teaching.
Kids are podcasting -- reading poems, doing book reports, and coming up with other ideas -- and idea casting for new podcast ideas: "We could read parts of books, to show why we like them. We could do interviews. If there's a field trip, we could make a recording of it and post it," said Mohamed El-Sayed, 10. "Kids anywhere will like to hear about us."Kids are motivated in part because the technology is new and cool, but also because the work is, published, or cast. Kids are making podcasts that they hope other teachers will use. Their learning is becoming a tool for others to learn. Also, teachers are finding that by not making everything automatically cast, students work harder to get good stuff in. Students do research in books and on the Internet, write scripts, perform roles --a town crier during the Revolutionary War, for example. "Kindergartners are taking loaner iPods home to practice their vocabulary words, and English as a Second Language students are using them to practice English."
. . .an Anthropology professor at Brandeis got a grant to buy iPods for students. The initiative is expanded now and is called "The iPod Experience" You can read about it here:
Students developed two-minute audio texts for each of the paintings in an exhibition at the university museum. They posted them on a university site for everyone in the school to download. This semester students are developing oral history materials to use in a walking tour of a neighborhood in Medford.

eLearning Utopia: iPods Meet Course Management in theClassroom By Robert ViauProfessor of English & Interdisciplinary Studies
Questions: What type of pedagogical content could be delivered through audio files? When and how would students and instructors be likely to use audio files with pedagogical content?

Handheld Learning

Questions: What kind of content would students or instructors be most likely to look up using their cell phones or PDAs? How would we need to adapt or plan content to work with these devices?
EPortfolios Leave the LAN and Get Webby and Database-based
Farther south, technologists at the University of Iowa are honing their own homegrown ePortfolio systems. Via an overarching electronic portfolio project, students in the school’s College of Education are treated to four different flavors of ePortfolios. The flagship initiative at Iowa—Digital BackPack—is a system that, much like UMD’s, provides a series of individual repositories into which every student can store files. On the surface, each portfolio is nothing more than a glorified Web page to organize presentations, documents, and images for others to peruse. Behind the scenes, however, the Digital BackPack is an elaborate, homegrown content management system, a place for students to store all the evidence of their education and curriculum-driven conceptualizing.
--quoted from Matt Villano: ePortfolios >> Hi-Octane Assessment

What role will publishers play in supporting them e-portfolios? What's more telling about the passage is the linking of portoflio to content management (and digital repository). As publishers, of course, we're learning how to think about a learning objects repositories. But the degree to which students and professors are creating (ePortfolio is one example; a lesson plan site such as Merlot is another) learning repositories and managing them and turning them to mulitple uses (Multiple use examples: ePortfolio can be used for course assessment of a student; department assessment of a course or of a program; college assessment of a department; student can reuse the same portfolio to get a job or apply to graduate school; or a professor in a department can use the same content to do research on how students learn.). The story of databases and eportfolios is really about how students and instructors are using learning content and artifacts in new ways. To the extent publishers are in the content business, they need to understand ePortfolios, content management systems, and learning object repositories (all variation of the same thing) and what instructors and students require from these tools.

Digital Writing Across the Curriculum:

Elgg: Learning Network as Social Space:

Multimedia as composition from Todd Taylor:
Work from Todd's students:

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