Sunday, March 28, 2010

Journal #10: Point/Counterpoint - Is Internet Access a Basic Human Right? (NETS-T IV,V)

Bernasconi and Maxlow. (2010, March/April). Point/counterpoint - is internet access a basic human right?. Learning and Leading with Technology, 37(6), Retrieved from

Summary:  Learning and Leading with Technology poses a very interesting question about Internet Access—Is it a basic human right? In 2009, France declared access to the Internet to be a fundamental human right. And today, educators and others in the U.S. are wondering if the right to a free public education shouldn’t be extended to Internet access. Two opposing opinions were given in the article. Natalie Bernasconi says, “yes” and quotes Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to substantiate her stance: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Bernasconi points out that recent change in our society’s democratic process with Barack Obama’s grassroots effort to mobilize voters using the internet. For our nation next generation to achieve its potential human capacity access to the internet is essential.

James Maxlow, opposes this view and states that internet access is not a basic human right because access to the internet can aid in obtaining the basic human rights but it is just one of many tools available to do so. Maxlow argues that basic human rights are not invented as new technologies surface.

Q1. Why does society have to be concerned about this either way?

A1. By stating yes, society will create laws and policies based on the basic human right to access the internet. As in education, schools were set up to ensure teaching of children the democratic process of our society. Thomas Jeffereson believed the future and success of our country are coupled to having an educated populous. As with education, the analogous will happen with internet access. If not a basic human right, access to the internet will remain a tool available to everyone but no structure or policy will be put in place to ensuring access.

Q2. Society has many tools it uses to ensure its survival without claiming to be a basic human right. Why is the internet different?

A2. In further discussion about the topic, educators such as Robert McLaughlin writes, the internet is important because ‘…so many facets of life in developed societies and, increasingly developing nations, are heavily reliant on connectivity.” Donna Murdoch argues that, “Broadband [tools such as the internet] is to this country today what indoor plumbing and electric lights were not long ago. It can be an equalizer between town and country and provide opportunities in education to rural and homebound people that they would otherwise not have. It levels the playing field for businesses.” If it is that powerful a tool, shouldn’t everyone have the right to have access to the internet? Society must decide if the internet is a basic human right and ask ourselves if it is not then will we put our country and future generations at a severe global disadvantage?

Journal #9: Grounded Tech Integration: Science (NETS-T I, II, III, IV,V)

(Note: This is a replacement article to "Playing with Skype")

Blanchard, Harris and Hofer. (2010, March/April). Grounded tech integration: science. Learning and Leading with Technology, 37(6), Retrieved from

Summary:  With all the different technologies available to a science teacher (e.g., interactive boards, probeware, simulations), the challenge becomes when to use what technology and where to use it in one's curriculum. The authors, Blanchard, Harris, and Hofer, offer this piece of advice: first plan one's instructional objectives and then decide which technology fits the objective—not the other way around. To help with identifying and matching the technology to curriculum the authors developed a wiki ( to help educators do just that in a variety of subjects including science. This article is the sixth article in a series of grounded technology integration in Learning and Leading with Technology. On the wiki, the authors have identified 38 science learning activity types to the expression and building of science concepts and knowledge. An example given for a knowledge-building activity is observing phenomena matched to digital microscopes, a conceptual knowledge-building activity. An example given of a knowledge-expression activity is writing a report to which the authors matched the use podcast technology. Judi Harris led a session at Margaret Blanchard’s SMART Teacher workshop in 2009 to help teachers avoid the “technology first” danger. At the workshop, three teachers learned first-hand how to incorporate the technology into their curriculum. After ascertaining the learning goals for their unit, the teachers built a curriculum by selecting and combining the learning activities that best helped the students achieve the learning goals. Some of the teachers decided to use a portable interactive whiteboard to determine prior subject knowledge and have the students present their initial model to the class by projecting from their tablets. Next, using a whiteboard, the students watched a presentation available from pertinent websites. Working with partners, the teachers had the students further enhance their learning by carrying out detailed online research and use spreadsheets or LoggerPro software to organize data. The students’ research findings would be presented using Flip cameras and/or podcasting and then posted on the classroom website. Finally, an exam review game would be played on an interactive whiteboard. The conclusion from the teachers after developing the unit was a consensus that the students would be more engaged in this unit being taught with the incorporated technologies outlined above rather than solely from a lecture.

Q1. Technology is continually changing, how can a teacher keep pace?

A1. The authors’ wiki page offers a way to share ideas amongst teachers to help grow new technology, refine outdated information and revise existing technology knowledge. By filling out an online survey, ideas to curriculum and technology can be easily updated to the site.

Q2. What if I don’t have all the technology available to me in my classroom?

A2. The integration will still work if one’s only choice is incorporating a small part of a technology component to an existing program. The wiki helps in identifying different ways to incorporate the technology into a variety of curricula. For instance, a simple PowerPoint presentation can be used by the teacher to present ideas and subject matter, by the student for presenting solutions to problems to his or her classmates and posting to a website to share with others. Engaging the student by utilizing this technology is key to his or her learning and builds good technology skills. The authors’ wiki identifies some obvious and non-obvious ways to matching technology (new and old) to the teacher’s curricula.

Journal #8: Navigate the Digital Rapids (NETS-T I, II, III, IV, V)

Lindsay and Davis. (2010, March/April). Navigate the digital rapids. Learning and Leading with Technology, 37(6), Retrieved from

Summary:  A vital component of being a 21st teacher in a 21st century classroom is incorporating technology, especially the internet, into the curriculum. The difficulty as a 21st teacher is being able to do so in an environment that changes faster than it takes to understanding the new technology and its potential hazards. However, the authors, Lindsay and Davis, reassure teachers that they are not alone and there has been enough learned from those currently navigating the digital world to avoid some of the pitfalls. The authors give seven tips to the reader for transforming a teacher into a professional who researches and assesses trends, monitors and understands the use of the technology to ultimately empower student-centered learning. The first tip is to customize the tools. By customizing tools, teachers can avoid technology that is not one-size-fits-all and make it fit curricula, standards and the students learning environment. The second tip is to monitor and be engaged when utilizing educational networks in a professional manner and by participating in those networks so that you can monitor your students. The third tip is to have a plan of what to do when students break rules. What was comforting to know is that the authors found that they have not had to ban very many students from the educational networks. The fourth tip is to overcome the fear factor when allowing students to develop their digital citizenship. One comforting thought the authors mention is that there are others before you that have gone through the same and so there are networks, discussion groups, and other teachers at your school that you can turn to for advice and from whom you can learn. The fifth tip is dealing with objections of using the internet by parents and others for fear the internet is unsafe. Educating the proper and safe use of the internet teaches student how to behave responsibly on the internet. In addition, privacy protection can be incorporated and made age-appropriate. The sixth tip is to allow the students to stray off topic as this can enable creative thinking and a positive learning experience as long as the students practice good digital citizenship. The seventh and final tip is to put the learning in the hands of students by allowing them to have administrative permissions.

Developing good internet practices and creating a positive digital learning environment as soon as a student begins his or her digital experience enables the student to graduate from high school with a positive digital footprint. The authors predict that it is only a matter of time before colleges will begin requesting hyperlinks for e-portfolios and other work online.

Q1. Is there an existing global internet program that students and teachers could incorporate into the classroom?

A1. The authors suggested and started a global program called the Flat Classroom Project ( This program connects teachers and students with the same worldwide. The program topics are based on the book by Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat. Students analyze the trends of information technology and their effects. Teachers blog, use Nings to share personal learnings, and collaborate on wikis. The result is a “flattening” of classroom walls as classes from different parts of the globe join to become one large classroom.

Q2. The authors mention the possibility of a digital trend where colleges will begin requesting to see a student’s e-portfolios, how would an internet project in middle school impact that?

A2. When a student becomes involved in a project that allows for creative exploration and enrichment of his or her learning experience and can document that through internet artifacts (e.g., blog, wiki, website), these artifacts not only become available for others to use and learn from but are proof of the student’s contribution to the internet and in some cases to society. The authors go on to say that careful consideration of privacy practices should be examined because, in some cases, deleting information posted to the school website may delete a student’s digital and academic legacy. Could any of us have known how powerful a pedagogical tool the internet has become? Who knows where the next generation will take us or where a project that started in middle school and evolves throughout high school can go?!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Journal #7: The Beginner’s Guide to Interactive Virtual Trips (NETS-T I, II, III, IV,V)

Zanetis, J. (2010, March). The Beginner's guide to interactive virtual field trips. Learning and Leading with Technology, 37(6), Retrieved from

Summary:  Saying the words “Field Trip” to students usually always evokes excitement. What student doesn’t want to take a break from the ordinary classroom day and experience the real world? Teachers like field trips because they solidify the curriculum in the student’s mind. However, how many students/schools can afford the airline ticket to NASA or the Great Barrier Reef? Virtual field trips (VTFs) bring opportunities for a classroom to travel beyond the borders of the school campus. This article points out two types of VFTs: asynchronous and synchronous. The basic difference is the delivery of asynchronous VFTs is not in real time, whereas synchronous is. Asynchronous VFTs are devoted to a specific topic with technology that incorporates text, audio, podcast and/or streaming video. There is a lot of variability in the quality and relevance of these types of VFTs. Synchronous VFTs are interactive VFTs. In real-time, students can interact with onsite experts who share their organizations’ resources in engaging ways. Engagement comes from the medium itself, connecting the content to the curriculum and having the students ask questions directly to and receive answers from experts. Lesson and materials can be targeted to grade level and students’ level. However, synchronous VFTs have hardware requirements that schools may not have readily available. This also means that your school's technology coordinator needs to help set up videoconferencing that needs to be h.323 compatible with IP-based connections. The bottom line is having the ability to view, interact and learn, whether with an asynchronous or synchronous VFT, about places that the student would never have been able to "go" is a huge advantage over learning about it in a book.

Q1. Where does one find asynchronous and asynchronous VFTs?
A1. In the article, Zanetis lists the following of the asynchronous websites: - E-Field Trips hosts electronic field trips. These field trips consists of 4 parts: a Trip Journal, the Virtual Visit consisting of a streaming video, an Ask the Expert tool and a hosted Web chat. - The Access Excellence Resource Center focuses on science- and health-related VFTS with online labs. - Gail Lovely's site proed a hot-linked list which is organized into live journey, interactive environments, travelogues, e-museums, and more.

The following are the synchronous websites Zanetis lists and were the 2008-09 Award-winning VFTs:
Adventures in Medicine & Sicence (AIMS) Program of Saint Louis University (
Center for Puppetry Arts (
Cleveland Institue of Music (
Cleveland Museum of Natural History (
George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate (
Hank Fincken: A National Theatre Company of One (
HealthSpace (now part of Cleaveland Museum of Natural History) (
Life Science Education Center at Marian college (
Louisville Science Center (
Mote Marine Laboratory (
NASA Digital Learning Network (Kennedy Space Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Johnson Space Center, and Goddard Space Flight Center) (
The National WWII Museum (
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) (
The Paley Center for Media (
Reef HQ Aquarium in Australia (
Virent Boradcasting Company (

Q2. What if my school does not h.323 videoconferencing technology?
A2. Besides the usual fundraising and approaching your PTA group, Zanetis offers another suggestion. 30% of schools may already have installed large-group videoconferencing equipment. Check to see if your school is one of those schools. You may be one of the lucky ones.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

NET-S Collaborative Powerpoint Presentation Rubric (NETS-T II, III, V)

This rubric was collaboratively created in RCampus to evaluate the NETS-S Presentation assignment. In RCampus, one can create educational tools such as rubrics, websites and e-portfolios and share with others with a RCampus account. In addition, RCampus provides embedding codes to post on websites and/or blogs for other ways to share the rubric with students, teachers and parents.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Journal #6: Classroom 2.0 - Collaborative Idea Maps (NETS-T I, II, III)

An idea map is a way to document the progression of one's ideas. This can be part of a brainstorming exercise or a well thought out plan. In the idea map, all ideas are place in a "box" of some sort. Any boxes that are related are connected, the boxes can be connected to more than one box or fall in a hierachy to one another. A collaborative idea map is one that more than one person works on together. What's great about this technology is that a collaborative idea map can be built upon by more than one person and as the idea grows it is documented along the way. This is a great way to share ideas in a group homework assignment and also allow for the Teacher to comment and make suggestions along the way. As you can see it can also be embedded in a classroom blog to be shared and perhaps even further collaborated.

I evaluated technology from I found the program intuitive. As my example, I used a current group project I'm doing for my Education 350 class. In I typed out some of the ideas that were part of our brainstorming exercise for our project idea. I can now share this with those in my group and they can add their ideas to it, correct anything I miss interpreted and place any new ideas on the idea map. If requested, I could share this with our professor so that he can give us feedback. We can use this as a way to divide up the work and figure out our time allotment for each section of our presentation. The ability to collaborate without having to be in the same room is a positive and negative. Positive because if group members are not able to get together physically, the work can still get done. Negative because communication is always key to a successful collobration. When technology is used in place of real conversation, gaps can occur in misinterpretations, misunderstandings and communication spurring on more ideas. In some of the discussion on Classroom 2.0, some teachers did not see how they could apply this to their own classroom. Ben Davis, started the Collaborative Idea Maps discussion, offers suggestions and examples to show the applications usefulness. He also walks through step by step instructions to setting up an account so that you can test out the software.

In more discussions, there was mention of other Idea Map programs such as FreeMind and MindMeister, CMap and Moodle. However, FreeMind is not webbased and MindMeister is lacking in some features and better in others. CMap and Moodle look like very good programs but more time consuming to figure out than What gets me excited about the software is the level of interest that teachers observed their students had in using the program. Always a plus for me to find ways to engage my students. One drawback would be for those classrooms and students with limited access to computers and the internet. What I like about idea maps is the ability to record free thinking yet having some organization as well as the fact that I can't lose my idea, unless I forget my password....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Prezi NETS-Students Presentation (NETS-T I, II, III, IV, V)

This presentation describes an activity that will help students learn about a chemistry concept, research the concept through various media including but not exclusive of online information, and provide an opportunity to teach other students about that concept. The activity will help students meet the NETS-Students standards. This presentation utilizes a relatively new presentation tool called "Prezi."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Journal 5: Five Steps to an Accessible Classroom Website (NETS-T I, III, IV, V)

Amundson, L. (2009, November). Five steps to an accessible classroom website. Learning and Leading with Technology, 37(3), Retrieved from

Creating a classroom website is a great way for a school or teacher to stay connected to students. However, navigating a website can be confusing and cumbersome especially for those with disabilities, limited knowledge of the Internet or a dysfunctional mouse. There are five steps to ensure that your classroom website is accessible. Step one is to organize your website for easier navigation by using headers, choosing colors that contrast well in gray scale and keeping the websites pages all uniform. Step two is to set up your website so that navigation can be done without a mouse by using the Tab key. In step three, use text explanations for images, sound and video. Step four is using text in your website links that makes sense. Finally, in step five, use a Web validator to evaluate your website.

Q. Why is it important to ensure accessibility of one’s website?
A. Not all users are familiar with the Internet and how most websites function. Following the five steps will allow users to easily navigate to the information they are looking for and access it more quickly. Students with disabilities may not be able to use a mouse or vision impaired (even color-blindness) can have difficulties navigating through some websites. Step two allows students unable to use a mouse to tab through headers and get to the items they need without a mouse. Even students who normally have no problems accessing the website may find they need improved accessibility when they break their arm or for some reason have only an iPhone to access the website. How many times have we gone to a website where the images are turned off? Ensuring that text is associated with the images will allow navigation even when the image is not viewable. In addition, by making following the five steps, the website is not only accessible to those with limitations (physical, temporary or technical) but it will also make the improve the utilization of the website for all students.

Q. What is a Web validator?
A. A web validator is a web validation tool that can evaluate the accessibility of your website. Tools such as Cynthia Says at, WAVE at, and Test Accesibilidad Web at are applications that you can use to assess the accessibility of your website. In addition, a Web validator can be a person you select such as someone with a disability to test how well they can navigate your website and provide you with feedback. And, of course, you can also test the website yourself by turning off the sound or images or use a gray-scale setting to see if navigation is still reasonable.