Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Internet Resources - Week Three

After a week hiatus from blogging, I have returned. This past Saturday I participated in 'Grill'n for Peace'. Participants donate $35, bring a Weber grill and food out on Madison's Lake Wingra and cook for the local Savory Sundays project. Money and food all go towards providing nourishing meals for those in need. I am always amazed and humbled at how a few people can act together to bring about some good in the community.

At the event I met new people and shared some of the wonderful things we are doing with Internet resources and how they have potential to help educate students in less affluent school districts or regions. One participant is an Americorps Vista volunteer working on bringing tutors together with at-risk students in the Madison area. The main challenge for her was getting the tutors to go to the schools. I brought-up the use of Skype and TokBox and she was amazed that they were free and available. Good things can happen when people get together and share.

Week three of Internet Resources through Cardinal Stritch University has us working in collaborative study groups. Team 'Milwadison' is taking a long look at Internet tools which may or may not have merit for teachers and learning activities. Today, I went through Adobe Buzzword and was pleasantly surprised. It is a very easy to use shared word processor which saves versions of collaborative documents. I say surprised because my recent experience with Adobe products has been one of a struggle with regard to the user interface.

280 Slides at first glance appeared to be yet another free Web 2.0 presentation site. Upon further review, and some initial fumbling (no online help for their Beta version) I was able to easily drag and drop multimedia (pictures, videos) directly onto the presentation slide. Wow, that was way too easy. Well, shouldn't software be not only useful but usable?

That was just a quick taste of the tools we are looking at this week. But how can we apply these tools as teachers? Do they enhance or detract from the learning experience? I feel that these tools have come of age and are ready for deployment. Internet tools have become easier to use and can provide a means to foster 21st Century skills. Something as simple as a student team recording meeting minutes in a shared word processor can help draw a team together - leading to greater combined effort and skills.