Day #19

And the journey comes to an end.

Hello everybody. What a busy and hectic week it has been for me. It’s my last week of the summer serving with AmeriCorps, I’m finishing up two online graduate classes, and I’m also getting things ready to head to North Carolina on Friday. Needless to say, I’ve put in a few late nights ever since last Friday, and I’m glad this is all coming to a close.

Now, I’d like to share with you my final project for ED 620.

As stated in my previous post, I decided to incorporate Keystone SMILES AmeriCorps into the final project. At the beginning of my term of service, I was unable to access important data entry worksheets from home on my Mac computer. I found a solution and wanted to share it with other members that use Macs, present and future.

So, for the project, my main product turned into a video tutorial that utilizes actual screenshots of the process for accessing the worksheets on Mac OS. I took the screenshots using Jing, and I did any needed editing using Seashore. I pieced the clips together using iMovie, and then I recorded the narration myself though my MacBook’s built-in microphone. I decided to upload this video to YouTube so that I could easily distribute it to those who need the information. Here is the final product:

In addition to the video file, I also created a text-based instructional document using Google Docs. To view this document, click here.

I have distributed these items to the staff members at Keystone SMILES, and they will hopefully make an impact within the organization in the future. Who knows, this might eventually end up on their homepage in some way, shape, or form.

That about wraps up my work for ED 620. To all of my classmates, I wish you luck in all of your future endeavors.

That’s all folks!


Day #17

Down to the home stretch…the fifth and final week of class is upon us.

First, let me touch upon my last entry for “Website of the Week.” This week, I chose to share with the class a great tool called Survey Monkey. It allows users to create digital surveys and distribute them via the internet. Once distributed, people with a link to the survey have access to all of the questions and can answer them whenever. Once completed, survey results are kept track of for the creator of the survey right on the Survey Monkey website. This allows for easy analysis of the questions and data produced from the survey.

Survey Monkey is a great way to collect information from students, parents, and even colleagues in the school setting. Even better, students can utilize this tool for classroom projects.

Click Here for a sample survey that I created for this blog.

Now, on to the “meat and potatoes” of this final week: the final project.

For our ED 620 final project, we are basically given free reign to design anything that we find useful based upon all of the neat new technologies that we worked with during the past few weeks. For me, I immediately had the thought of incorporating my work at Keystone SMILES AmeriCorps into the project to make it useful to myself in more than one way.

Here is a brief background before I go into what I am doing for my project:

At Keystone SMILES, members enter data into Excel spreadsheets in order to keep track of service hours, volunteers, students, etc. This is a very important source of data for the organization and has to be updated on a regular basis. To do this, members must log-on onto a remote computer system that stores these data forms. This system can be accessed by any internet connected computer. However, if you use a computer that runs the Mac operating system like me, these forms cannot be easily accessed at home. I took this problem upon myself to find a solution…and I did.

So, for my project, I am creating a digital tutorial in the form of an instructional video showing users how to access these data forms for Keystone SMILES if they are a Mac user. As far as I know, I’m the first person to solve this problem for the organization, and I plan on sharing this instructional video with them in order to help future members have an easier time.

By Thursday, this video will be completed, and I will have it uploaded to be streamed on YouTube, so I will embed it in my last post for you all to see.

Until then…








P.S. I’ve found my productivity levels to go up while doing coursework if I listen to “Bon Iver” while chugging along…I hope it makes you all more productive as well. Enjoy!

Day #16.2

It’s super late (almost 1 AM), but now is as good as any to get some work done.

When I last posted, I was still up in the air with which project I wanted to tackle for ED 620. It was between a digital storytelling project or a virtual field trip. After a long day on Thursday taking 75 kids swimming and to Pittsburgh for a baseball game, I have finally decided on my project.

What I decided upon was to pursue the creation of a digital story. If you’ve been following my blog, you should know that I am a graduate assistant at the Jefferson County History Center in Brookville, PA. Because of this, I have a lot of materials and resources pertaining to the area. So, what I decided to do was tell a story based upon my resources.

I have been wanting to try out Prezi, a web-based interactive presentation builder, so I decided that this would be my storytelling medium.

Below, you can view my final product:

I hope you enjoy it. Tell me what you think.

I think it’s just about time to catch up on some much needed sleep. Only one more week to go!!!

Until Monday…

Day #14

Good evening.

Week 4: off and running. The focus for ED 620 this time around is digital storytelling and virtual field trips. By the end of Module #4, I will have created one of the two. Right now, I’m in the process of trying to decide which project I would like to work on.

Right now, I have a few different thoughts: either I can document an actual field trip that I am making on Thursday with AmeriCorps¬†through digital storytelling,¬†or I can create a digital field trip based off of my content (social studies). The field trip on Thursday is to a baseball game in Pittsburgh to see the Pirates take on the Cubs (which I am VERY excited for…I’m a huge Cubs fan and I get to go for free and get paid to do so!!!). Since the trip is not very educational in nature, I am leaning toward creating my own virtual field trip focusing on some historical sites around the Pittsburgh area (Heinz History Center, Fort Pitt, etc.).

I’m going to have to sleep on this decision since it will have an impact on my plan of attack for remainder of the summer session.

In the meantime, I feel like sharing a video inspired by my trip to PNC Park this week. Enjoy!

Day #12.3

Ahh… I finally found some extended time to sit down at my computer and write a commentary of what I’ve learned this week in ED 620.

Let’s start off with wikis. Wikis are really cool tools for learning. They allow anybody that has an internet connection and access to a wiki page to edit, change, save, and collaborate information with others in one place no matter the time or place. Probably the best known and most used wiki out there is Wikipedia. I mean, who hasn’t heard of this website? I’m constantly looking up information (most of the time useless information) on Wikipedia in my spare time. You can learn a lot of interesting facts in the “world’s biggest encyclopedia.”

But, I want to talk about using wikis as a classroom tool, so first, here is a short video that I found on YouTube:

In today’s classroom, technology is changing the way that learning takes place. The internet is becoming more social with Web 2.0 tools, and collaboration is a big part of the new learning experience. This means that educators need to rely on tools that allow for this type of online collaborative style of learning. Wikis are one of these tools, and there are a ton of websites out there that allow users to easily create their own wikis for their own personal use.

I have played around with wikis in the past. I personally have used Wikispaces in the initial development of my professional e-portfolio (I found Google Sites to offer more of what I was looking for in the design of my e-Portfolio). Surprisingly enough, I have never had the chance to work on a wiki with other people in a collaborative manner. I’ve always used Google Docs for my online classes, but I do want to develop classroom content of my own that uses wikis to promote collaborative learning.

I’m curious, out of the three wiki engines that were listed in our ED 620 content (Wikispaces, Wetpaint, & Peanut Butter Wiki), which one have you used the most?

That about does it for this week in ED 620. Time for me to finish my portion of the “Online Scavenger Hunt Project.”

Week 4, here we come!

Day # 12.2

Hello digital world!

It’s been a very long and busy week for me, so I apologize for not posting anything earlier.

Let’s get started, shall we?

This week in Ed 620, the theme is online collaboration tools. This is a topic that I’m somewhat familiar with, but having a deeper knowledge of what’s out there for use in the classroom is very beneficial for any educator.

The creation assignment for this week involves group work. We are to work in small groups and collaborate using online tools in order to develop an internet scavenger hunt. In order to work together as a group from wherever we are all located while we work on our online coursework, the group relies on some of the technologies that are discussed in this week’s “Module 3.”

The scavenger hunt document that is being created has been made using Google Docs. This amazing tool allows anybody with the link to the document (which was posted in our group’s ED 620 message board topic) to edit and add their own content. The content in this particular case will be questions, answers to these questions, and websites where the answers can be found.

Our group has decided to focus on the Civil War as an overall theme for the scavenger hunt. This year (2011) marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the war (1861), so we thought that it would be relevant. So far, two group members have created five sets of answers/questions/websites a piece, but I have not found the time yet myself, but I have compiled a list of good Civil War related websites that I am going to use in the next few days:

All of this browsing through Civil War material has inspired me to post this video:
Ok…now to go work on my portion of the scavenger hunt. More info on my thoughts and experiences with the “Module 3” collaborative content to come in my next post.

Day #8.3

Hello world!

The week is finally drawing to a close, and I finally found some time to compose myself to reflect a little more on what I accomplished these past few days.

Before I get into the ED 620 stuff, I want to talk about my day yesterday because it was a really neat learning experience for me. Yesterday, I volunteered my time to work at the Pennsylvania Civil War 150 (PACW150) Road Show, a traveling exhibit that tells the story of PA’s involvement during the war through a number of different mediums, while it was at the Jefferson County Fair. PACW150, a movement of the Pennsylvania Heritage Society and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, was set up as a way to get people involved with the 150th anniversary and commemoration of the American Civil War. Through the use of technology, they have created an awesome collection of free resources that can be very valuable in and out of the classroom.

My time spent at the Road Show involved working with visitors in the technology driven “Share Your Civil War Story” booth. Inside, visitors could record a 90 second video using a computer and webcam where they tell a family story about the Civil War. To see some examples of people’s stories, click here. I got to meet a few very interesting people who had great stories to tell.

The exhibit is very well put together, and I suggest everyone to visit it whenever it is in your area. For anybody in the Clarion area, the Road Show will be visiting the Clarion Mall on September 9th through the 11th. The full 2011 schedule can be found here.

Alright…now on to ED 620.

I decided to share my experience from yesterday because my time volunteering also helped to build my Personal Learning Network a little further. Which reminds me, I have been building my PLN little by little over the past few days. Google Reader has become a big part of my web browsing experience. It is very convenient to log onto one page and have all the information you are looking for delivered right to you. This is going to save me so much time from now on. Efficiency is key whenever busy schedules take over, and I have a busy schedule.

After reading more and more about Twitter, I’m becoming a bigger fan of the social tool. I see it now more as a resource rather than just something that is there. One thing I found out about Twitter after doing some research is that it use to outright support RSS, but now it takes a little bit of effort to include Twitter feeds into your RSS readers. After some browsing, I was able to find this website that details two different methods of locating an RSS for Twitter accounts, which is very useful if you plan on using a reader to keep yourself organized.

I thought “Module #2” this week was very relevant to anyone that is an educator in today’s world. I already discussed my thoughts on the RSS feeds and Twitter, and now it’s time to touch upon the other resources and information that was shared with us this week (Google Apps and Open-Source Software).

What can I say? I LOVE GOOGLE TOOLS! I’ve been using Gmail since high school, and highly recommend it as a primary email address for anybody. I use Google Maps all the time whenever I am looking for directions to a place that I’ve never been to. I’ve made my Professional ePortfolio using Google Sites, and I’ve used Google Docs on various collaborative class projects.

One tool that wasn’t mentioned this week in glass that I also really like is Google Earth. I have used it a lot in the past, and even made a resource for the Jefferson County History Center using the tool. What I did was I researched the local Civil War regiment from Jefferson County, PA (105th) and tracked their progress through the war using the maps on Google Earth. I then created a virtual tour with push-pins that pop up information for each major stop/date and recorded the tours with a screen capture tool. Then I took the videos that I created and edited them together using iMovie and recorded narration and added background music. Here is an example of the end result:

More information about the processes for making the video can be found at my JCHC Blog.

That brings me to open-source software. What’s not to love about the great resources out there that are free. Personally, I use a lot of open-source software on a daily basis, and can’t imagine life on my computer without it.

One piece of open-source material that I want to become familiar with in the future is the Linux OS. I’ve had thoughts about buying a Netbook and installing a version of the OS on it just to become familiar with it. I’ve had my fair share of time using both Windows and Mac, and I feel as though I should test whatever else is out there.

If anyone has experience with Linux, let me know. Also, if you have any suggestions on Netbooks to use with it or any other general information, please share!

Week #2…Over and out!