Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Enhancing Lessons: Wednesday of Week 3

I never did get around to reflecting on Week 2; I guess it went by pretty quickly, and I was distracted by the startup of a new semester at the Maryland English Institute, where I teach. While I was otherwise engaged, our session grew to over 100 participants, with an active core of maybe 15-20 people who created their own blogs and posted regularly to our Yahoo Group. We had a heated discussion about the amount of detail one should include in a lesson plan, and on Saturday some of us met synchronously in a virtual classroom at Elluminate as well as in the Enhancing Lessons group room at Tapped In.

Week 3 focuses on the asynchronous voice tools Voice Thread and Chinswing, and Rita opened threads in both of these for all of us to contribute to:

P.S. On another note, I have returned to Second Life twice and have added some of the webheads as friends. I sat with Vance, in the guise of Webhead Link, in a couple of inner tubes on a lovely pond at Edunation II, surrounded by lovely flowering trees and singing birds (I like to log out leaving myself floating there, but when I log back in I find myself standing up in the pond with wet feet!). Vicki likes to take over my locomotion and has dumped me on roofs and into oceans, which she finds quite funny. I am wondering if it would be wise to create an avatar for her in the Teen section....

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Finally! Second Life

After about 2 years of hesitating, hemming and hawing, I finally signed up for Second Life yesterday. One of the problems I had with it was that when you register you can choose any first name you like for your avatar, but you have to select a last name from a list, and I didn't like any of the last names offered, so I tried a couple of times but never got past that stage! (I was also concerned about using up too much computer memory and the apparently steep learning curve, and I wondered just what application this might have in teaching, since it would take a long time to teach students how to do it as well.)

Anyway, yesterday I was chatting with the webheads at Tapped In as usual, and several of them were simultaneously at SL. I just did it. I found a last name that appealed to me (Zaytsev, which comes from the Russian word for rabbit) and took the plunge. I chose an avatar, a woman in a pantsuit, and adjusted her (my?) appearance a little (made her/me a little fatter), although I couldn't change the hair from straight blonde to dark curly.... I was trying to make her more like me. (Maybe that isn't the point, though; maybe the point is to create somebody that doesn't look like me at all.) When I arrived at the "welcome area" I was met by a volunteer mentor who offered some help and answered some questions for me. Then I explored a little. I learned to walk, fly, hover, jump, shrug and a bunch more things. I found Education II, where the webheads have a headquarters, but it was deserted. And I was approached by an avatar who invited me to have sex (actually he said sez). Yuck! I immediately flew away. Later I encountered him again; he had shed his clothes somewhere. I told him I had not come to SL to be harassed by naked men, and left again. (I hadn't learned yet to say "eeuuww!")

This is one of the reasons why I would be hesitant to take a class to SL.

Here's a snapshot of me at Edunation:

Week One reflection

Yesterday, Sunday, marked the end of the first week of Enhancing Lessons with Web 2.0. Everything has gone very well! We have 100 people signed up but of course many of them are not active; either they are lurking, or they just signed up and changed their minds; it's hard to tell. Many people overestimate their ability to follow an EVO session and sign up for several. Unless you have nothing else to do in your life, this is inadvisable! Anyway, I have really enjoyed the interactions I have had so far with our participants on the Yahoo Group,at Tapped In, in our live session at Elluminate on Saturday, on our blog and on our wiki. Robert also created a page at Netvibes where all of these things come conveniently together. This is my first exposure to Netvibes and it seems worthy of investigation.

Today we begin Week 2, Blogs: A Home Base for Web 2.0 Lessons.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

EVO2009: A New Adventure

EVO2009 begins on Monday, and this is my first time co-moderating an entire session (you may remember that in 2007, I co-moderated one week of Becoming a Webhead). Our session, Enhancing Lessons with Web 2.0, was conceived of by Robert Squires, whom I met for the first time in New York at TESOL in April. In addition to Robert and me, our team consists of Rita Zeinstejer, my dear friend from Rosario, Argentina; three other Argentine ladies, Mary Di Monaco, Analia Dobboletta, and Alicia Zuliani; and Maru del Campo from Mexico. We have been working for a few months to pull together a great session, and we have about sixty participants signed up from Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, Iran, the U.S., Indonesia, Russia, the U.A.E., Spain, Chile, Portugal, Germany, Israel, Peru, Mexico and Romania (plus several who have not yet shared their locations with us). The focus of our session is how to incorporate web 2.0 tools into solid lesson plans aimed at achieving specific learning outcomes. I am a very bad lesson planner, so I am not an obvious choice for moderating the session, but I expect that I will learn a lot by doing it!