Summer Course Descriptions


I have been working on creating my summer course descriptions for the teachers in my district, and, like I did for the spring courses, I’d like to throw them out here for the potential of some feedback.

Do you Wiki? How to Harness the Power of Collaborative Learning through Student-Created Wikis Course Description: Several teachers in the district have begun to use the power of wikis to enable their students to work collaboratively on web pages centered around a particular subject or project. Sites that use “wiki” technology are turning the ideas we have held about online research upside down. A Wiki is defined as:

a type of web site that allows the visitors themselves to easily add, remove, and otherwise edit and change some available content…. This ease of interaction and operation makes a wiki an effective tool for collaborative authoring. The term wiki also can refer to the collaborative website itself (wiki engine) that facilitates the operation of such a Web site, or to certain specific wiki sites, …and on-line encyclopedias such as Wikipedia.

Wiki technology lends itself inherently to collaborative learning and creation. The very idea that several students can work on a body of information both simultaneously, independently, and from any location where they have an Internet connection, immediately extends the classroom beyond the 40 minutes that we see them and beyond the physical walls of our classroom. Participants from any content area will benefit from the balance of student freedom and teacher control afforded by PBWiki. Some examples of projects that teachers using wikis have created are: classroom study guides for full and half-year courses and even individual exams, collaborative projects with other schools in other countries, choose-your-own-ending stories, and student-driven tutorials for all levels of mathematics.

This workshop will focus on creating a project or reshaping an already existing project to include a wiki. The goal is to have everything ready to go with the project so that when students arrive in September there is no time crunch and only their names have to be added.

Social Bookmarking with del.icio.us: How to Organize your Links and Collaborate with Others Using Tags Course Description: How do we teach our students to manage information? How do we get them to look past the first two search results on Google? One of our biggest concerns as learners and educators is how we will keep track of the consistent rising tide of information available to us. What is good? What is trash? The rise of “Social Book marking,” and “Social Annotation,” on the Internet has created a new and relevant way to find pertinent sites, track information and share knowledge. Your “favorites” now can follow you to whatever computer you are on!

Del.icio.us, a leading social bookmarking site, allows users to depend on “the wisdom of crowds” by granting nearly full access to anyone’s bookmarks and tags. If, for instance, a user is finding great material on a subject matter that you are interested, you can subscribe to their bookmarks so that whenever they find something and tag it, you will also receive it in your account. It’s like having a team of researchers working for you!

In this workshop we will delve into the advantages of using “tags” to describe web pages and store them in an online account that is accessible and expandable from anywhere. This will allow you to work with colleagues by sharing a tag in common and build a repository of useful websites. The classroom applications then open up: can my entire class share this tag with me as well? Yes, and we will show you how to make this happen. We will explore two of the major social book marking sites, discuss the advantages of each, and learn how to use the “folksonomies” created within these communities by sharing our tags with other users.

The Power of Google Course Description: Wherever you turn in the news these days, Google seems to be up to another huge move. Whether it is acquiring YouTube for over a billion dollars, being voted the best company to work for, or introducing a suite of online applications to rival Microsoft Windows, Google is more than just a search engine.

In the last few years, the minds at Google have been busy creating applications that really, for lack of a better word, rock. Skeptics and converts alike agree that Google has created unbelievably useful and elegant tools for all people to use. Teachers are a main target for the folks at Google.

Google for Educators
are a series of free applications aimed at helping teachers integrate technology into their lesson planning. Are you a teacher searching for ways to have students collaborate on a writing project or a data collection? Google Documents and Spreadsheets, their version of Word and Excel, allows several users to work simultaneously on one document or spreadsheet. Are research papers a part of your curriculum? Google Notebook allows users to keep a running log of web pages they visit and make notations that are saved to a page in Google, so works cited lists become much easier to create. At the completion of the workshop, each participant will have their own suite of applications from Google to work with, and at least one classroom project ready to go!

Research 2.0 with RSS: How to get information to Find You
Course Description: Think about these statistics:

  • In September 2003, kids ages 2-11 spent average of six hours and 39 minutes online; in September 2006, that average had increased 41% to nearly 9 hours and 24 minutes. (ZDNet)
  • According to former Secretary of Education Richard Riley, the top ten in-demand jobs for 2010 didn’t exist in 2004. “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.” – Karl Fisch
  • There are over 2.7 billion searches performed on Google each month.
  • The number of text messages sent ”each day” exceeds the population of the planet.
  • The average kid, age 2-11, spends nearly 9 1/2 hours online per week(up 41% in the last three years); the average teen spends nearly 27 hours online per week (up 27% in the last three years). Adults age 18-26 spend an average of 12 hours online per week. The average family spends 3.6 hours online ”each day.”
  • There are over 700 million Internet users worldwide, 153 million from the U.S.
  • 77% of Americans are online. 52% of Internet users are women.
  • Education can no longer be about the accumulation of facts:
    • More than 3,000 books are published ”each day”
    • A week’s worth of ”The New York Times” contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime during the 18th century
    • It’s estimated that 1.5 exabytes (that’s 1.5 x 10 to the 18th) of unique new information will be generated worldwide this year. That’s estimated to be more than in the previous 5,000 years combined.
    • The amount of new technical information is doubling every two years. That means for a student starting a four-year technical or college degree, half of what they learn in their first year of study will be outdated by their third year of study. It’s predicted to double every 72 hours by 2010.
    • Third generation fiber optics can push 10 trillion bits per second down one strand of fiber. That’s 1,900 CDs or 150 million simultaneous phone calls every second. It’s currently tripling about every 6 months and is expected to do so for at least the next 20 years.
    • Predictions are that by 2013 a supercomputer will be built that exceeds the computation capability of the human brain. By 2023, a $1,000 computer will be able to do the same. First grader Abby will be just 23 years old and beginning her (first) career … (By 2049, a $1,000 computer will exceed the computational capabilities of the ”human race.”)

    Thanks to Eric Hoefler for these stats on his Research 2.0 wiki, which I plan to refer and link to often during this class and others.

The sheer amount of information available to makes the use of the word “overwhelming” an understatement. How do we gain access to the best information without being overcome? We need a way to filter as we mine the Internet for information. We need a way to make the Internet work for us. This is the power of RSS, or “Really Simple Syndication.”

Simply put, RSS is a way to subscribe to content on the Internet and have it delivered to you on a regular basis. We use the word content to mean many things: news stories from magazines and online newspapers, blog posts, changes on wiki pages or online documents, Google searches, YouTube and Google Video searches, picture searches, and even del.icio.us tags. In this workshop we will work to make you a more efficient researcher and planner, able to find resources based on the work of others as well as yourself. When the school year begins, you will be more than ready to keep up with the topics you need to, and more on top of your research than ever before.


Administrator’s Introduction into Web 2.0

Course Description: What makes administrators effective technology leaders? Do we need to be immersed in technology in order to promote its pedagogical resources within our buildings? While we all might consider ourselves to be at least proficient in various applications of technology, the pace with which it advances is unprecedented, meaning that our knowledge base must increase as well. Also, emerging social applications like MySpace and Facebook for middle and high school students, and Club Penguin for elementary school children have left a lot of us in the dark as to what our students are doing online and why they feel the need to connect in such a way.

This workshop will serve both the purpose of increasing knowledge of the pedagogical applications of technology within our district, and that of understanding how we can come to terms with the emerging social technologies that our student population is immersed in. Upon completion, you will have a working knowledge of solid strategies that you can pass along to your teachers during post-observation meetings; furthermore, you will understand the basics of social networking and see its positives and its drawbacks.

In addition to these, I was also thinking of having a blogging class, where we use one of the many blogging hosts out there to get teachers used to the idea of participating in meaningful online discussions. Since these sessions will be during the day in the summer, if any one out there is willing to Skype in, or participate in some way, I would be totally open to that as well.

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3 thoughts on “Summer Course Descriptions

  1. Wow! Not only does this sound like an incredible set of courses, it sounds good enough to steal!!

    I’m doing a two (and a half) day workshop on Web 2.0 tools this summer, too. I’ll probably just scratch the surface of blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, RSS, and maybe a little podcasting. How is/are your class(es) structured? Is this one extended class, or separate courses that teachers elect to take? How long will you be able to spend on each?

    I’d be willing to try to Skype in during your session (as soon as I figure out how to do that!! I have a Skype, I’ve just never tried it with anyone other than the test voice 🙂 But I’m open to it! Perhaps we could demonstrate for each other’s classes?

    If you don’t want to try to reply here, feel free to email me privately (Email on my blog, which is pathetic right now!), or we’ll talk more in Ning.

  2. I concur– some great ideas! What I would recommend is that instead of teaching a Web 2.0 application in a vacuum, teach it as a curriculum connection, such as “Using del.icio.us as part of the Junior Class research paper” or something to that regard. I have found that when courses are taught, teachers learn how to use that application, but it is done so in isolation of their content area, especially for high school educators.

  3. Cory,

    Let’s keep that in mind as the summer approaches. I would love to bring on some people using Skype during the Administrator’s workshop especially.

    Bach- your comments are right on. That is what I am finding. In reading Darren Draper’s recent post where he uses Bernajean Porter’s graphic to show where teacher technology retention is highest, it is easy to see how your point makes such perfect sense. I definitely plan on adding some dialogue to the course title and description to that end.

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