Thursday, September 14, 2006

[TIPS] - Drawspace and Day 4

Did you ever want to be able to draw better than you do? This site is for you - and for your favorite art teacher. You must register, but it's free. If you've got a "throw-away" email address use it to register. I haven't been registered long enough to know if I get spam from it. I don't think so, though. Choose from Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced lessons. Very nice.


- - - Nothing Important Happened Today - Day 4 of 5- - -
So far we've got... well, I don't want to think about what we've got so far. Do you? Let's just say that we're not quite as happy as we were three days ago. Let's talk about some cool stuff that's going on. Sorta take our minds off of this race.

Google processes about 7.5 Billion queries per month according to this article: http://battellemedia.com/archives/002093.php Weeeeeeeee-yoooooooooo! That's a lot of people asking a lot of questions, don't you think? And that's just ONE search engine.

A quiet revolution has been happening online over the past few years. Some call it Web 2.0. Others eschew the label and still others reject it all together. But, what they're talking about is the change in the web from that of a medium to that of a platform. (Huh?) It went from just a place where you went to get information to the place where you go to publish YOUR information. Blogs, for example. According to the blogherald there are over 100 MILLION blogs - and growing. They could be personal journal/blogs, or they could be informational, like the google sightseeing or the gearth blogs. Granted, many kids are using their blogs in very unsafe ways, but they are being published.

Social bookmarking is another phenomenon that is changing the way people gather or find information. Tagging. I save a bookmark to the site (like del.icio.us, or furl.net, for example) and I tag it with keywords to help categorize it. Now, anytime that someone goes to that site and looks for sites tagged with any of those keywords they'll see MY bookmark, as well. Plus, I can subscribe to, say, the science tag and then anytime anyone posts something and tags it with the word science I'll find out about it. (Thanks to those who have used the for:jgates513 tag!!)

Flickr.com is a great website for sharing pictures. My favorite story of the power of flickr was told by Will Richardson at NECC. His 7 yr old daughter had to write a recipe book about the weather for her teacher. What ingredients go into Summer, Spring, etc. She used her crayons to draw the pictures and write out her ingredients. Her dad then helped her to scan and post her images to flickr. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/wrichard/sets/96435/) Some time later the daughter was admiring her pictures at flickr and noticed that there were about 1100 visitors - people who had seen her pictures. She asked her dad what that it meant and when he told her she paused a while, then said, "I'm going to write a book." That tool so motivated her to think that SHE could put her picture story online and people would read it. How cool is that? Of course, the DOPA act will prevent schools from accessing flickr, but don't worry, the rest of the (hungry) world can - and we're teaching 'em how to make powerpoints. Don't worry about it.

Wikis are web pages that anyone (registered users only) can edit. Wikipedia is the best known, and if you didn't listen to that speech by Jimmy Wales I encourage you to do so. What if you could give YOUR students a web page that either starts off blank or maybe it starts off with a few paragraphs from you in which you set the stage for this unit of study, and you allow the kids to edit it as they see fit? WHAT? Let THEM edit it? Am I CRAZY?

Not at all. I'll BET that if you set up a wiki for your classes, and you commented positively on the growth of the wiki from time to time in your classes, you'd find that the kids would be writing about your content and posting links to great websites and linking to each other's posts and creating this "Web" of information the likes of which you've NEVER seen before. And you'll find those quiet kids who never contribute in class are suddenly making links, too. I can recall one 8th grader who rarely spoke up in Social Studies class, but who was the mischievous computer kid. I KNOW that he would have been the type to make a wiki page about something (on the topic) and he'd show off a bit by making his links a little fancier or he'd find out how to add an image before anyone else, etc. He would start to bloom! Yes, it's possible that someone could get in there and trash someone else's work. But, it's also possible to restore it AND to determine who it was who trashed it so you can change his password for a while so he can't get in. In the meantime, the kids are talking and writing about your content.

All over the world, kids and adults are using technology to share thoughts and ideas, and to collect the thoughts and ideas of others, yet in many schools in America we're not able to do that. We're not able to use the very tools that the (hungry) honor students in China and India and soon to be the kids in the underdeveloped nations are using. What's happening?

Tomorrow I'll share more about some of this very cool stuff, plus examine what's happening to the way kids are getting educated in general. But for today, I'll close with my blog/journal entry, "Yes, it appears that SOMETHING important IS happening today."


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