Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Episode 20: Teaching in a Virtual World

Episode 20: Teaching in a Virtual World

Episode 20 of "Teach with Tech" features an interview with Sarah Robbins, an instructor from Ball State University. Also known as Intelligirl, she was recently featured in an Associated Press article in the Indiana Daily Student headlined "Teacher Uses Online Second Life for Classes: Students take classes, interact via cyberspace." Now students interacting via cyberspace is no big news...here at IU, we've been doing that since the early nineties, and I'm sure the same is true at Ball State. But what Sarah is doing is a bit different from just having a course website, using listservs or discussion forums, or using learning management systems like Oncourse or Blackboard. She is using something called a multi-user virtual environment, specifically a program called Second Life, which allows students to meet online in a 3D world with visual representations of themselves called avatars, which interact in a constantly evolving, user-created universe of objects and places. Her teaching and research have been featured in articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the New York Times and USA Today. In the episode, she shares her experience teaching in this unique environment and provides suggestions for other instructors, both secondary and college level, who are considering trying out Second Life.

Related Links:
The episode is now online and can be found at iTunes and the Instructional Consulting website.

As always, comments welcomed!


Monday, March 12, 2007

More Tech Fun!

Hello again!

Well, Episode 20 is in process, as they say. Watch this space. Today's posting is a miscellany of things I couldn't wait to share with you.

Web-based access to Popular Instant Messenger Programs

Ever needed access to a chat program but the machine you're working on doesn't have it, or you're on a school machine that doesn't allow access to chat? Well, Meebo is the way around this little pickle that you've gotten yourself into. The website provides access to AIM, MSN, Yahoo!, Jabber, Google, ICQ (wow, I'd forgotten about that one!) accounts. This may be one URL you don't share with your students, though--it would allow them access to chat, too. They also have a program, MeeboMe!, which allows you to add chat to your site. I'm considering it. But would it ever be used? Might be an option for a K-12 project, though...

Keeping Up to Date with Tech

I was chatting with one of my Education W505: Using the Internet in the K-12 Classroom online students the other day--and I do mean chatting, online chat is a big part of the course--and she asked me about the best way to keep up with the latest technology, once she was out of the course. Well, of course, the first thing I mentioned was reading this blog and listening to this podcast. But I also suggested she read the Wired News website, check out David Pogue's column/podcast, and listen to the This Week in Tech "netcast". Then, if she was a Mac person, which she wasn't, add on MacObserver's weekly roundup podcast. She's a teacher, like most of you, I suspect, so she doesn't have time for much more than that. What do you think of my selections? What should be added/subtracted?

Sony's New Box

If you're like me and lived through the 80s, you probably have a ton of VHS tapes that are unlabeled and unknown. Who knows what treasures these babies hold? I recently found an old tape that had "elect-me" ads from Ronald Wilson Reagan. And these tapes are degrading every day. But who has the time to capture them and make DVDs? Well, Sony's new box seems to take all the hassle out of your hands. And fairly inexpensively, too. Intriguing.

Club Penguin: MySpace for Third Graders?
Have you heard about this? Perhaps your kids have been hanging over their teenage siblings' shoulders, watching them play around in the Web 2.o world of social networking, internet gaming, etc (as if the teens would stand for this!). Club Penguin seems to be a way for younger kids to step carefully into the pool. The site makes claims of being kid-friendly and kid-safe, but still teach your kids about Internet safety before using it. It has no advertising, which is nice, though, because of that, it's not free.

Well, that's it for now. It is too nice outside to stay in front of this computer!