Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Any Ideas?

As I glance forward to my get-together with Lloyd Purdy on October 4th, I decided that I would write this post to request some assistance. In a recent e-mail that Lloyd sent Katie and me, he mentions that we ought to look over two websites. One is the Downtown Cortland website and the other is a website called Fatcow. The Downtown Cortland website is self-explanatory, but this is the first time that I am looking at the other. It seems pretty straight forward, but it has left me with a couple of questions…

Is it similar to iWeb? Is it similar to a freewebs.com? Does anyone think it would be smarter to recommend that we do the Downtown Blog on Blogger? Or is Fatcow similar to typepad? Maybe it is more professional?

No big deal, I was just wondering if anyone else had heard of this website, or had any ideas.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Just so everyone knows…

Staples is having a HUGE sale on USB keys. I purchased a 1GB SanDisk USB key and it was only $25.00—that’s more than half-off! They have various sizes and colors at this discount. If I remember correctly…the 512MB was $15.00, the 1GB was (as I said) $25.00 and the 2GB was only $44.00! I just figured, given that a lot of people were considering buying one of these handy tools, that I would post this for all to read—it’s a heck of a deal to pass up.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Uh, Oh, Here It Comes...

It’s not frustration. It really isn’t. I’ve had an iPod for nearly 3 years now; so I’ve been accustomed to podcasting. Never did I imagine myself developing my own—but, I was excited when told to do so. Blogging, wikis, podcasts, Garage Band, iPhoto, and all of the other new media that we are all learning this semester have been relatively easy for me to deal with thus far. But, I have had a very frustrating night/day with this. Here’s why.

1. When dealing with the wiki I have minimal problems. It is an easy concept with enormous potential. I am keen on the wiki. I just don’t know what to write about. It seems to me that everyone in this class is studying to become a high/middle schoolteacher. I think that’s awesome. I believe it’s so intriguing that I am actually considering it, for me (no, really). But, I haven’t been exposed to all of the background that most people in this class have—therefore, I feel a little left behind. Now, I’m not using this as an excuse. I believe that finding something intriguing to write about is half of the battle. I’m just saying it’s a little frustrating at times.
2. I was most excited when I heard that we would be creating our own podcasts this semester. I have wanted to do this for a while! And, everything was going very well…until this morning (well, last night). I spent hours editing my pictures, recording my voice, and trying to blend it all together. I actually liked the final product, except…
a. When I edited the pictures on my computer—they looked remarkable. I then transferred them onto a Mac and into iPhoto. They had lost some quality, but I was still content with their appearance. When I conclusively put them into Garage Band, the final creation looked as if I took my images from a bad Internet site—the quality was horrible. That was disappointing, but I blame myself, and my scanner for that. No big deal, for now (I was just trying to put together any enhanced podcast so I could understand how it worked for class today—and then, next week, I would be able to construct a more relevant and professional version).
b. The agony of recording my voice onto my computer was comparable to Chinese water torture. It just wasn’t fair. I have recorded my voice, on my computer, before—with no problems. Why do I have all of these problems now? Is it because I used PowerPoint to record my voice last time? I don’t know?
c. What could be worse than me not being able to record my voice into my podcast? I’ll tell you—not being able to save the thing. I just don’t get it. I can save it to the desktop, and to the hard drive, but I can’t burn it to a CD or send it in e-mail.

Overall, I am pleased with how things are going. All of what we are learning seems to come really easy to me. These small problems that I have mentioned above are “little.” I guess I just wanted to vent…

Thanks Everyone!

It’s been five months, seven days, five hours, and three minutes since the fire. I have nothing but pleasurable memories from the past five years that I spent here in Cortland. I’m not going to pronounce that my living in the Clocktower Building the year that it burned down was a pleasant thing (I would by no means wish that upon anyone)—however; I suppose that it has truly been a constructive, eye-opening, experience for me.

Now, roughly one half year later, I can admit, with ease, that it is the city of Cortland that lost much more than I did that day.

It would be erroneous if I were to claim that on that date (or even many weeks to follow) I was more concerned about a time piece building than my book collection. But, now that most of my books are replaced…, I look back at that fire and see the huge hole that was left in the town where I have spent the past five years of my life…

Because of this, and Lloyd’s persuasive manor when he spoke to our class, I knew right away that the Downtown Cortland project would be perfect for me. Everyone in the town of Cortland (not just SUNY) was unbelievably bighearted to me at that time. I hope to use this opportunity as a feeble attempt to say thank you…

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hello, Mr. Attention Grabber,

It appears that my preceding post seems to endorse an idea that Alverman has in the second chapter of his book, Adolescents and Literacies in a Digital World. Right from the get-go, Alverman solicits this rhetorical question:

“1. What significance do digital technologies have for paying, attracting, and maintaining attention” (Alverman, 20)?"

Without analyzing the rest of the chapter I unerringly knew what Alverman was going to show me. The significance is enormous! Just think! I took a mental trip back into my middle school career briefly, and easily remembered one technology that helped me and my fellow students at the time pay attention. If it weren’t for Math Blaster…what would we have done!

I understand that this is not pioneering news. Keeping the students’ attention has always been the key to educating them, hasn’t it? I guess this just reiterates the fact that maybe video games (digital technology in general) will keep the attention of students.

I know that’s a far-cry, but I’m a still thoroughly interested in how beneficial this could be.

It’s not even just video games. I have video games, but I don’t play them often. I have cousins who do nothing but. If I were to speculate as to one technology that would change the future and dominate the classroom, I wouldn’t even pick video games. I would say it’s the iPod (for music and video reasons). Music is a very important part of people’s lives. It’s something that everyone can relate to. There are very few people, although there are some (my dad), who can actually say, with a straight face, that they don’t truly listen to music. If we, as educators, could find a way to integrate popular music and the iPod into classrooms, I would guess that we would have the attention of the students.

How to do this is beyond me, but I guess it all revolves back to what Alverman was talking about. I almost feel as if we are on the verge of something. I just hope it is what we are learning in ENG 506.

Grammar Blaster?

While I was reading Grand Theft Education, all I could think about was the game Math Blaster

It’s a ‘B’ Day*, seventh period, there’s only ten minutes left, everyone’s squirming out of their seats…but why? There are still two long periods left in the day, before they can go home.

Well, eighth period was more or less like another lunch period; each student looked forward to it. After History with Mr. Hagar, the pupils who had Computer Lab on ‘B’ days would dash over to room 110C. In this area, they would have the opportunity to take part in a few select activities. It wasn’t like the other classes, not as tedious and uninteresting. Today, in Computer Lab, the kids were practicing using Microsoft Word. And, if they accomplished their exercises with time remaining, they were permitted to play Math Blaster.

Math Blaster was a dreadfully straightforward video (computer) game in which students would guide their hero (an admirable space traveler) through the galaxy by adding, subtracting, and multiplying. If you were clever enough to bring our hero the entire way, to the last level, you would be challenged even further: fractions…

It was an uncomplicated fixture. It was extremely entertaining. I don’t actually know if I, personally, ever got far in this game (Probably not, I suck at Math), but I do remember that it was a competition—we all enjoyed it.

Now, I don’t know how popular this game ever became outside of our computer lab walls, but I do know that our school definitely treasured it. It was put into practice accidentally, but after the teachers saw how effective it was, they decided to keep it.

Now that I am learning about technology in the classroom, I can see the advantages to video games. They could be very useful tools when teaching our students—especially when it comes to keeping them interested in the material.

Maybe there could be Gatsby: the Game. Students would need to read the book in order to progress in the game. Symbolism and Irony would serve as a way to guide Gatsby through this adventure.

Ha, I know that’s a colossal stretch. But, in all seriousness, I’m convinced that there is a way that video games could be implemented—and the article Grand Theft Education has helped me to believe that. I must admit that I was a little bit of a skeptic at first. But, it all comes down to what Zengotita said, “Everyone in the overdeveloped world will have the tools they need to create this amazing stuff, whether it be blogs or films or games" (39).

*In Wallkill Middle School, where I was educated, the students had to adhere to the each day as either an ‘A’ day, or a ‘B’ day. The classes were different depending on which day it was.

oh, wiki...

Well, I must admit that I’m pleasantly surprised. At first glance, the wiki assignment that our course group was diving into head first was, to a certain extent, intimidating. But, after creating my first two wikis (http://web.cortland.edu/wiki/index.php?title=IPhoto) I can actually admit that I stand corrected. This is why…

When brainstorming ideas for my first wiki, I felt besieged. I didn’t want to write something that was erroneous or, gasp, unintelligent. So, I decided to wait to produce my wiki—choosing to blame my procrastination on the post that Alex created on our course site, which stated that no one could sign in. After reading, and re-reading, Will Richardson, I realized that I was being excessively critical. A wiki is designed to be edited (duh, Ray) so there is no rationale for me to feel this anxiety. If I write something and then realize that it is wrong, I can easily go to that page and edit the mishap. Or, in the absolute worst case scenario, someone else would do it for me.

Overall, I’m pleased with this project thus far. I just hope that my contributions are worthy—and if they’re not, I’m sure they will be with the help of my fellow classmates.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Thanks, Will Richardson

It is easy for me to confirm that, without a doubt, Will Richardson’s book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom has really stimulated my interest, the most, out of three books we have read this semester, thus far.While I would, as some of my other classmates have noted, not consider myself a “digital native,” I would like to think that I was much more than just a “digital immigrant.” But, Will Richardson has allowed me to realize that there are a lot of technologies that I haven’t even considered…

Two weeks ago, to this day, if someone were to ask me what a wiki was, I would have no answer to give him/her. “A strange word in an even stranger language,” I would say…I would have never guessed a wiki (specifically wikipedia.org) was a place that attempts to store, “the sum of human knowledge” (Richardson, 59) in one place. It really is shocking. What a powerful concept we have at our fingertips. Richardson is a herder and we are the sheep. He must show us the way, allowing us to utilize this concept. He does an excellent job.

I remember when I lived in the dorms during my undergraduate studies…

Young college students, about eighteen years old, would come back from a weekend of binge drinking and post all of their pictures (in which some seemed to me to be quite inappropriate) on to a website for all to view. That’s all I knew about websites like flickr.com. Richardson allowed me to understand the positive benefit that could come from websites such as this. Who would have known that the creators of flickr.com instituted a very handy annotation feature? That could be handy in a classroom.

So, I guess that it’s time to admit, that I wasn’t as proficient with modern technology as I first thought. But, the good news is that I am learning already. I’m excited for what is still to come.

P.S. I’m pumped for this iTunes U concept, although…I don’t really get it.

An Epic Moment

So, it seems that I have finally built up an adequate amount of courage to cement the words of my first blog. Admittedly, I have actually written a blog before—but only to find that lasting for at most two or three days. As a (self-proclaimed) writer, I am constantly scribing random thoughts and ideas that stimulate my mind throughout the day. So, I would think (which is why I made my first livejournal account) that a blog would be something enjoyable to me. But, to be honest, I have always been skeptical when it comes to sharing my words. Not that I think they are poorly written, or that my ideas are horrendous—I just feel that I write for myself. It becomes a way for me to figure things out on my own. Maybe this blog will make that easier? I have always been open to the idea of blogs. What a better way to expand on my thoughts and learn more. But, it still is a new idea that requires some “getting used to.” Hopefully all of this hoopla about blogging will allow me to turn this into a positive experience and really learn a lot—especially about how technology could, and will, dictate the rest of my life as an educator.