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Week 2 - Reflective Task (Oct 10-16, 2011)

This week we will reflect on practical strategies for using social media to promote deeper learning in the classroom. Please read and watch the materials below and then respond to the Reflective Task question by clicking “Post Comment” in the upper right corner of this page.

READING #1: Some of you may already know Vicky David (aka Cool Cat Teacher).  She’s something of an online sensation - advocating for web 2.0 in the classroom.  You can explore her blog at Vicky has authored a useful short paper on the Web 2.0 Classroom.  Click this link and read her paper

VIDEO #1: Sasha Barab is a leading thinker about technology and learning science from Indiana University. He spends a lot of timing studying virtual learning experience and student engagement. In the following video he makes a case for why students like to use new media.


1) How can you apply ideas from these two thought leaders to your classroom / school?  

2) Share any additional ideas you had while going through the reading and video.

Task Discussion

  • Harry B   Oct. 17, 2011, 4:51 p.m.

    In application I think it is more important to be a constant resource acquring new information constantly so that everyone serves as a resource for another, this would help keep up with the changing media and changing technology that teachers are challenged with!    The application is quite universal on all these possiblities as well, so I think it is important to introduce a new program to students, then see what they come up with a projects, this taps into them being owner and creator of projects to be more interested in them.  I think it is important to have at the beginning of the year a dictionary or encyclopedia, if you will of all the possible programs student could use for various purposes, and before the year it out, have at last every one of them experimented and used in some way.  It is very easy to pull the latest trends or popular ideas of a period out of the news, and if teachers can collaborate with students to see how they can make ideas/projects based on those events around us, the news and events that interests us, and make those events the projects that represent that current year.  I think collaboaration with students to do this creates the "we're in this together" mentality and further motivates the students in projects they are vested in.

    With the first article, I see alot of common sense information, however, it is not that common sense when you do not have time to just stop, think about how to be sensible with the technology presented and make sure the info is applied to more than just one sitting.  I think using a blog is a great idea, and alot of areas that people did not consider things to be Web 2.0 but in reality are, they are just more resources that enable more and more social media.  To effectively get the informationout to the public, without seeming to be overwhelming, I see blogs can do that, they can reach the masses and be personal at the same time.  Honestly, I tried blogster, but somehow, something with Wordpress worked perfect, it just clicked.  I never did a blog until I came to Mexico in July 31, 2011 of this year, but apable in a blog!  It is excellent and I have no problem writing every day whereas in a written diary, no way.  However, I did want a physical book in my hands lol. I have a slowly growing public thanks to the information and variety of presentaton mediums that are available.  I saw the forst article to be more explanative in how these mediums can be applied and begin to induce people to embrace these new technologies.  

    In seeing this video, wow, alot of outbranching ideas come forward!

    First, with the speaker himself, I thought it is a good idea for teachers to bring into the classroom speakers that are involved with technology on a daily basis so the teachers and the students can see what is on the horizon for their futures. This video got me excited about the Atlantis game and how it involves students more into decision making and technology - they students need to see this during a school day to get excited too and push/pressure teachers to show them paths to reach these destinations.

    I like the part where he said the students are the hero, for the first time professions that were not given alot of attention can come to the forfront thanks for situational social media that allows any profession to share the spotlight with decision making.

    I like the advent of programs that allow students to be more proactive in technology, the Atlantis Program is awesome and quite capable of connecting to pop culture while also incorporating sme individual decision making that will challenge students.

    When you hear standards you usually think GRrrrreat, I like the fresh perspectve that approaches using social media can have on standards, the comment that was the options are more interesting is true, I see the same standards but being creative and bending the expectations of these so they can be more appealing and put a different spin onto what using standards are.

    With the repetitive word Tinker, this set the tone for what was to be a difference than students simply being filled, like vessel, with info.  Students WOULD be playing a proactive role in thr difference of making decisons rather than memorizing them.

    Also, administration, faculty, and parents have to share jount custody of this new entry into social media for it to be effective.

    The whole way through this I thought how challenging these new approaches in media are and how desperately needed are MediaSpecialists/librarians to help take the load off teachers in these areas.  If the need and worry is to take care of the needs and interests of students, then before we do lose more students to lethargy, I think we do need to utilize the extended role Media Specialists play in heping set up new approaches to technology in the classrooms alongside the teacher to show librarians of the 21st Century can not be deemed for the library alone, but a resourse that can add to the curriculum and challenge students!






  • Anna   Oct. 21, 2011, 5:08 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Harry B   Oct. 17, 2011, 4:51 p.m.

    Thanks Harry for your thoughtful analysis and reflections. Let me know if you try Quest Atlantis with your students. I would be curious how they respond.

    I too loved Sasha's use of the word "tinker". I think school systems are so focused on "defined outcomes" these days to the detriment of allowing time and space for pure playing with ideas, mixing, mashing and discovery. I've been meeting more and more home school parents recently and when I ask them why did you decide to homeschool. Many have responded that they system just keeps trying to cram information down my kids throat without having any focus on the child as a person. Perhaps by allowing more "organic play" time in class, this would allow classroom facilitators and educators more time to think, breathe and notice as well?

    Other key words in the film that resonate with me in the film are: agency, consequentiality, tools for transformation, purpose, failure is motivating, quest, heroes. As a child I participanted in Odyssey of the Mind. Are you familiar with the program? I later became a competition coach and judge. What I loved about the program is that it allowed us as participants to take a really interesting problem (like build a car that does X or a set of machines that do y) and to salivate over that problem for 5 months - building, playing, failing, trying again. At competition each team not only presented their technical solution to the problem, but a whole drama ("skit") around the solution. Kids create some awesome powerful "worlds" of their own when given the space. I think the challenge with social media is getting kids to use it in an explorative spacius way in the classroom, not a "rushed" way or a "low value" way.

    Your point about partnering Media Specialists/Librarians with educators is so on point. I led a workshop on using video in teaching and learning yesterday in Abu Dhabi. In the workshops, teachers teamed up to practice making videos. One team - a history teacher, English teacher and ICT teacher - worked together to make a film on the history of learning. Their big take-away from the experience was "we need to work together more!" As we work with this group over the next 6 months, we will definitely encourage such collaborations!

    I'd love to read your blog. Can you post a link? My old blog Literacy is Priceless has a lot of ideas on using technology to promote literacy. Know our team blogs at Dot Learnt - focusing on EdTech in Emerging Markets. I am a huge fan of WordPress as well. It feels very intuitive to me. Plus, I love all of the pluggins/widgets!

    Have a great day!


  • cinmil   Oct. 16, 2011, 4:42 p.m.

    I think the main two things I learned from these two individuals is that if a student's education is not meaningful and relevant, then they do not see a purpose for being in school.  I agree with Sasha when he said, if students are passionate about learning, then they are not concerned with success or failure, but instead about accomplishment; and failure becomes motivating instead of debilitating.  In today's ever-changing and competitive global society, we need to help students become creative thinkers, communicators, collaborators, and  designers, which is what Web 2.0 and social media does in the classroom.

    I also noticed that "gaming" seems to be a new type of curriculum in the many ways it is being utilized to help students to build a bridge while learning geometry; develop a strategy in reducing crime; etc. Just recently, I attended a professional development workshop on a new site called "Whyville."  It is an avatar setting, similar to SecondLife, where students have to work to earn so many credits (called something else) in order to learn how to solve various issues plaguing society today.  I have to admit that I was very engaged as a teacher and could see middle school students being very engaged as well because of the connection and sense of accomplishment this particular learning tool would provide them.   

  • Anna   Oct. 21, 2011, 5:12 a.m.
    In Reply To:   cinmil   Oct. 16, 2011, 4:42 p.m.

    Thanks Cindy. Can you speak a bit more about how you would incorporate "Whyville" into your classes? In what context would you use the world? I'd love to hear how your students respond.

    Given your interest in games, have you seen the school Quest to Learn? The curricula is very much based on gaming. - Anna

  • Tony Allan   Oct. 14, 2011, 2:07 p.m.

    I love the idea of immersing students in a simulated environment to create learning.  Turning the boring case study into something you live and breathe sounds fantastic.  At the moment we (at the college I just left) are trying to simulate a work place using a broad ficticious  company wide case scenario that covers many HR function areas (i.e. Recruitment, Training, HRIS or Performance Management for example). Students learn the case scenario, and then different teachers give students function specific challenges.  In the end students feel like they work in the company and can kinaesthetically learn practical work skills.  This process could be greatly enhanced if we could create and implement Sasha like ICT based games.

    I have used wikispaces to enable students access to learning resources off campus.  Yet I recognise there is so much more I could be doing because we (the students and I) use it more like a repository (with the exception of a couple of discussions) the an interactive and collaborative tool.  I would like to have tried getting small groups to build single document using the web-based edit function of a wiki.

  • Anna   Oct. 21, 2011, 5:18 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Tony Allan   Oct. 14, 2011, 2:07 p.m.

    Thanks Tony. Yes - the "danger" in building an only community is that it just becomes a repository for posting stuff as opposed to a true idea ecosystem where that "stuff" is given meaning and context via dialogue and interaction.

    I often struggle to create effective virtual learning ecosystems. We've been involved in some very active ones like RAK Teachers Network, and several others that just didn't take off. I've noticed that the best (as in most active) online communities tend to be ones where people find it useful to interact and where they are rewarded for their contributions. In a course setting, instructional design is also a huge influencer on interaction. 

  • Hanna   Oct. 14, 2011, 11:32 a.m.

    1) How can you apply ideas from these two thought leaders to your classroom / school?  

    I found the Six Pillars of a Web 2.0 Classroom very helpful, as they had me questioning how well these pillars stood in my classes.

    Internet Safety and Privacy was one that really stood out to me. Where are my students being taught this? How can I know how to best teach this to my classes?

    I am convicted to bring more of this into our school and classes, as I really was hit by the "virtual shark bait" concept.

    Another that stood out to me was Internet Teamwork. I would love to see this in my classes more, but am unsure of how to even begin. I have had ideas of starting a class blog or wiki, but don't know what programs would be best or how to format/organize it. Any suggestions? In addition, I desire to have interaction with other students in other classrooms via the internet and web tools.

    Finally, in the article, the description of a Web 2.0 Teacher was applicable to my teaching. It is something that I want to strive more to be like. "Model what you teach" is definitely a quote that I agree with and need to do more of. Hopefully, by taking this class and learning more about how to use these tools, I can do so.

    The main thing that I took away from the video was the fact that we need to create meaningful activities for students and that learning is not longer about knowing the textbook facts, instead it is about solving meaningful problems using the tools of this century.

    2) Share any additional ideas you had while going through the reading and video.

    My one concern or thought I had related to the resources available to students in the classroom and at home. How can we incorporate using Web 2.0 tools and skills if the resources aren't available to all? In addition, as a teacher, how do you balance being part of the web, teaching, family, and outside life. I don't think I would ever have enough time to do everything in the article we read or video.

  • Jennifer Claro   Oct. 14, 2011, 5:11 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Hanna   Oct. 14, 2011, 11:32 a.m.

    Hi Hanna,

    Here are 2 resources (there are many available on the Internet) that may give you some ideas about how to set up a wiki or blog and what you'd want to use it for.

    Access to resources is a major issue - some students have access to computers at home, some don't. I think ensuring that all students have access to computers either at home or in a school lab or library or wherever should be the first step of any Web 2.0 class activities. I ask my students using a Moodle survey what kind of access they have and if this is likely to be a problem. You could use a print survey for the same purpose. Another option is doing everything together in a school computer lab, but this may be hard to fit into your schedule. I found that my students didn't have computer access problems so I could assign them work to do outside of class.

    Best wishes with your blog or wiki!




  • Christopher Batchelder   Oct. 15, 2011, 10:40 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Hanna   Oct. 14, 2011, 11:32 a.m.

    Hi Hanna,

    I think starting by setting up a classroom blog is a great way to incorporate "internet teamwork".  Students can post ideas, responses, comment on each other's work, etc.  Then you can branch off into other web 2.0 tools.  There are a couple of user-friendly blogging services that you might consider.  

    (click the links above to navigate to the blogging platforms) 

    We would be more than happy to help you set up a blog if that would be of interest.  If you have any trouble after look at these links just send an email to and we can give you a hand.  

    Also, setting up a classroom blog over the next four weeks would be a great project for our classroom "labs"  (see the practical tasks for upcoming weeks).  I would encourage you to try to set one up during this course so that we can all support you.  

    I also have a classroom blog planing tool that I can share with you.  I'll have to figure out how to upload to P2PU and get it over to you. 

    - Chris




  • Christopher Batchelder   Oct. 15, 2011, 10:42 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Hanna   Oct. 14, 2011, 11:32 a.m.


    Here's a collection of blogging resources we created for a teacher network we manage here in the UAE. 

    Have a look:

    If you don't find what you need drop us a line. 


    - Chris

  • Hanna   Oct. 17, 2011, 4:14 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   Oct. 14, 2011, 5:11 p.m.

    Hi Jennifer,

    Thank you for the resources - I will definitely check them out!

  • Hanna   Oct. 17, 2011, 4:15 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Christopher Batchelder   Oct. 15, 2011, 10:40 a.m.


    I appreciate the resources and ideas. I am going to use this as my practical task, as I think it would be a great addition to my classes.

  • Anna   Oct. 21, 2011, 5:22 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Hanna   Oct. 14, 2011, 11:32 a.m.

    Hi Hanna.

    David Miller (someone that I met via Twitter) just sent me these YouTube tutorials for educators. You might find them useful:


    Good luck. Let us know if you need help setting up your blog :-).

  • Anna   Oct. 21, 2011, 5:24 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Hanna   Oct. 14, 2011, 11:32 a.m.

    One more thing... When we start working with educators that are new to web 2.0 tools, we often recommend to start with 1 tool and 1 small project. Then build from there step-by-step. Otherwise, the social media universe can get totally overwhelming! Also, getting students to help fill in our knowledge gaps in social media is critical!

  • Jennifer Claro   Oct. 13, 2011, 10:46 p.m.

    Hi tbraught and everyone,

    Here are a few comments on what you wrote.

    Their writing conventions has improved without a comment from me.  I'm wondering if it is because we are focusing on professionalism or because of their posts.

    Could it be because so many people, their own peers, are reading what they are writing? Writing for an audience could be a motivating factor for students.

    We are starting to use Evernote for reasearch on the Internet.  

    I just checked out Evernote for the first time, it looks very useful. Thank you for introducing me to this new tool. Great, I haven’t tried anything new in a while… Thanks also for the reference to Prezi, I’ve heard it’s great, will have to try it out too…

    Teaching students about their digital presence is very important.  I teach juniors and seniors and am amazed at their ignorance of how open their posts are.  They were shocked when I shared with them about someone I knew who was asked to log into their Facebook during an interview for a job.

    Yes, Vicky David mentioned this in her article too. It seems that many students are unaware that “the Internet is forever” and whatever they post on the Internet could be used against them in the future.

    Thanks for an interesting post!



  • Anna   Oct. 21, 2011, 5:26 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   Oct. 13, 2011, 10:46 p.m.

    Hi Jennifer. 

    Check out the tutorial links I posted for Hanna above. You might find them of use :-).


  • Jennifer Claro   Oct. 13, 2011, 10:27 p.m.

    Hi Everyone!

    Here are a couple of quotes from Vicky David’s article that I found interesting and relevant to my own classes. My own comments follow the quotes below.

    Internet Teamwork: Meaningful collaboration between students through wikis and other collaborative technologies are essential to the very future of our world and fabric of our society.

    Yes! I hope to have international online collaborations in the future and this is a very exciting prospect for my classes. But there is so much involved: cultural awareness, similar levels of English ability and motivation, common interests, etc. I think a successful international collaboration takes a lot of preparation.

    The best Web 2.0 teacher is a part of the web themselves. They have an RSS reader and subscribe to blogs in their topic. They comment on blogs and stay abreast of real time innovations in their field. They are connected to other educators in their field and often share their own best practices with others. They consider new technologies and are not prone to make knee jerk statements without considering the facts. They model what they teach.

    Yes! I’m taking this course to stay on top of my goal of using Web 2.0 technologies with my own students. So it’s imperative that I use them myself, and stay on top of new developments. I used an etherpad for the first time a couple of months ago and they are very useful! But I realized that there are some problems with them. For example, TitanPad worked well but our PiratePad was lost in less than a day. And I learned the differences between Google Docs and etherpads by using both.

    So teachers have to use Web 2.0 tools themselves, as many as possible, so that their toolbelts are full, and that we can USE any of these tools in educational ways. That’s been my major goal this year, using 2.0 web tools. It's taking time and effort but I’m getting there… :)

  • Christopher Batchelder   Oct. 15, 2011, 10:49 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   Oct. 13, 2011, 10:27 p.m.

    Hi Jennifer,

    "Yes! I hope to have international online collaborations in the future and this is a very exciting prospect for my classes. But there is so much involved: cultural awareness, similar levels of English ability and motivation, common interests, etc. I think a successful international collaboration takes a lot of preparation."  --> Have you checked out the Global Education Collaborative? 

    They are a community of teachers that are looking for international exchange projects.  

    Also, if you let us know what kind of exchange you are looking for we can also try to connect you to some teachers or principals who might be interested in exchange!  

    - Chris

  • Jennifer Claro   Oct. 15, 2011, 5:21 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Christopher Batchelder   Oct. 15, 2011, 10:49 a.m.

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks! I hadn't seen this resource. I checked it out and it looks very useful. And there are some universities looking for ePals - great! 

    Hmmm, maybe I can try to set something up for next spring...

    Thank you, this is a really useful resource.




  • tbraught   Oct. 3, 2011, 10:59 p.m.


    1) How can you apply ideas from these two thought leaders to your classroom / school?

    I came into the year with a goal of using Web 2.0 tools.  I knew that I couldn't use every tool, but wanted to concentrate on a few that I could learn and would integrate into my curriculum.

    1. I am using a blog to post a question, a thought, or articles for the students to respond to and to comment on the other students' comments.  For example, we are talking about professional behaviors and this week we are discussing dress codes in the digital media and information techology occupations.  I have given them three articles to read.  As we are doing with this lesson, I require that they post their thoughts about the article and comment on at least five students' posts.  I have been very pleased with the results.  Through the first month of school, I have seen students starting to put more thoughts into their posts and comments.  Their writing conventions has improved without a comment from me.  I'm wondering if it is because we are focusing on professionalism or because of their posts.
    2. I am also using Google Docs for collaboration work.  The students seem to be more on task when they each get a keyboard when brainstorming than having one recorder with a marker and paper.
    3. We are starting to use Evernote for reasearch on the Internet.  Not only am I teaching how to use Evernote as a tool, but I found that I need to teach how to take notes.

    I'm enjoying learning how to use the tools as much as the students.  

    2) Share any additional ideas you had while going through the reading and video.

    • Teaching students about their digital presence is very important.  I teach juniors and seniors and am amazed at their ignorance of how open their posts are.  They were shocked when I shared with them about someone I knew who was asked to log into their Facebook during an interview for a job.
    • I've been experimenting with using Google Apps and Prezi this year  with my students for collaborating their brainstorming lessons and presentations.  I have been pleased to see better brainstorming as they work together than with one recorder writing everybody's thoughts.
    • I started teaching students how to effectively search the Internet about five years ago.  I was shocked that they had never been taught how to use the advanced operators to refine their searches.  These are digital natives who are juniors and no one has taken the time to teach them how to search effectively or to use another appropiate search engine besides Google and Bing.
    • Getting information vs. using information... isn't that one of the keys to deeper learning?
    • I was going to do a cell phone activity, but changed my mind.  I took a survey of the number of students who had cell phones and who did not, who had smart phones and who did not.  I stumbled upon a nerve with a couple students.  They could not afford a cell phone or the parents would not allow them to use a cell phone and they were very conscious of this.  I scrapped my lesson and decided to use another tool.
  • Hanna   Oct. 14, 2011, 11:37 a.m.
    In Reply To:   tbraught   Oct. 3, 2011, 10:59 p.m.

    What program are you using for your student blog? Can anybody edit or comment on this blog or is it private to your students?

  • Christopher Batchelder   Oct. 15, 2011, 10:58 a.m.
    In Reply To:   tbraught   Oct. 3, 2011, 10:59 p.m.

    I think I need to brush up on my advanced search operators for Google and Bing!  :-)  Great ideas in your post. Sounds like you're really experimenting and integrating social tools / web 2.0 throughout your classes.  

    For me, I'm really interested in how you're using collaborative technolgies like google docs to conduct student projects.  In the Sasha Barab video above he talks about giving students "agency" or the ability to make a difference in the world.  To do something real.  I think collaborative technology opens up possibilities for this.  Students don't just read about water quality.  They can collaboratively start a campaign to improve water quality, etc.  

    Are you doing much with project based learning + collaborative technology?  Would love to hear how you do it.  

  • Christopher Batchelder   Oct. 15, 2011, 10:59 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Hanna   Oct. 14, 2011, 11:37 a.m.

    Hi Hanna, I know I wrote this above but I'll repeat it here just in case you didnt' see it:

    These are some collected resources we put together on blogging that you might find useful. 


    - Chris

  • tbraught   Oct. 25, 2011, 10:46 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Hanna   Oct. 14, 2011, 11:37 a.m.

    Our web hosting company, SchoolFusion, has classroom pages for uploading files, allow students to upload class assignments, have a blog capabilities, etc.  The blog is my discussion section for students.  I can make the posts private or public.