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everything that I am learning in EDUC 628

SNS Ethnography: Classroom 2.0 May 9, 2008

Filed under: EDUC 628 — remonzer @ 8:31 pm

SNS Ethnography: Classroom 2.0

Numerous social networking sites have appeared since the Internet evolved from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0.  A quick search will turn up sites that appeal to a wide variety of interests.  I am a member of two social networking sites, MySpace and Classroom 2.0 (CR20).  Although, for entertainment, I enjoy hanging out on MySpace with friends and family, I chose CR20 for an ethnographic study because its focus on education, web tools, and all pertinent factors is important to me and my professional growth as a teacher.  CR20 was created and is maintained by Steve Hargadon, and is supported by educators all over the world. The onus is on educators to get discussions up and running.  Subjects represented on CR20 are:

  • Art
  • Biliteracy-Bilingual Education
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • English
  • English as a Foreign Language
  • English as a Second Language
  • Foreign Languages
  • Geography
  • History
  • Math
  • Music
  • Physical Education
  • Religion
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Membership is free.  Personalized web pages to which pictures, blogs, video, and music may be added are included as well as a message wall.  Members also have the option of setting up a Ning for classes, projects, groups, or events.  One of more of the many threaded discussions can be joined or initiated at any time.  The same is true for groups.   Hosts to CR20 are located on the main page, a very nice touch for directing traffic and alleviating confusion.  Members may also invite friends to join.  I have added a couple of friends whom I have met in person and others that I have met online to my friends’ list.  Recently, I invited six more colleagues. 

CR20 participates in the Ning ID authentication system (easily identified with a special symbol) which allows people to use the same email address and password to access any other social network that takes part in the Ning ID system.  Ning IDs can include basic information and a picture, which is transferred to other participating social networking sites.

Based on my observations, I have reached the conclusion that relationships on CR20 range from basically professional to friendship building.  Some of the discussions that I followed involved people who seemed to have a kinship, even if, for example, one lives in Australia and the other in the United States.  Every post has a date and time stamp as well as the name of who said what and hot links on their names to respond to them so communication can be synchronous or asynchronous. On the main page one can easily see who has been talking to whom about what and when.  After viewing these threaded discussions for some time, I started to recognize names and figure out some of their individual interests. I sort of had the feeling that I was observing my neighbors.

The list of new and ongoing discussions is long and extensive.  While many members seem to be well practiced in the use of Web 2.0 tools, others have little experience with their use – a factor that accounts for fact that tools form the topic of a large number of discussions. Some people need help or want to use tools to collaborate with other teachers.  There are other topics as well such as that of a discussion in which I am currently involved about what everyone’s opinion is on the idea that Spanish language instruction is sometimes the only language offered for students to learn in middle and high school.  As a foreign language teacher, this is interesting to me because as the only foreign language – Spanish – teacher in our school, I have some input.  Another discussion that I am taking part in involves the differences between Portuguese spoken in Brazil and that in Portugal as well as its commonalities to Spanish. 

Groups of diverse sizes and varieties are found on CR20.  Three groups that I belong to are AP 2.0, Green Schools, and iPod Educators.  Some groups are more active than others; some have as few as four members and others have over 300.  Like other features of the site, it is up to members to keep their groups alive and flourishing.  While perusing the groups, I noticed that membership often leads to collaboration with others in other groups, all resulting in the creation of one big workplace.  Also, I noted that participants are very supportive of one another and willing to offer advice, help, or opinions.  In a couple of instances, opinions were offered that were contrary to the main stream of conversation, but the discussion turned a different direction and widened to include previously unstated ideas.

In addition, members may congregate and work on the resources wiki for CR20.  Here, notices of important upcoming events can be posted, changed, and updated as needed.  It serves as a multipurpose adjustable bulletin board.

After emailing Mr. Hargadon with questions about rules on CR20, I initiated a discussion with his urging.  Specifically, my question was:  Are there any kinds of implicit rules or mores that one learns as he or she becomes fully immersed in the Classroom 2.0 community?  He suggested that I post the question to the forum because his experience as the founder of the site would be different from the others.  He also indicated that there weren’t actually any rules except for those regarding commercial organizations and, to date, no reasons had arisen to establish any.   His first response to my inquiry was to ask whether I had encountered a problem.   I had not, but his swift response and apparent concern was evidence to me that someone was available to field troublesome issues in the event that any arose.

The only type of advertising that is allowed on CR20 must be related to common discussions.  Any type of service that violates that rule will be banned.  Paid ads are not accepted, but sponsorships for selected activities are welcome.  To report a suspected violation, members submit links to problematic material to a designated link.  The offender is given one warning.  If the warning goes unheeded, the account is deleted. Businesses that sell products made for uses related to common discussions on CR20 are permitted to chat about their wares because they are created by educators who have seen a need for and can answer questions about their product, and are interested in improving education.  People selling these products must first become members and use their real names.  They are forbidden from discussing their products in blogs or any other place besides a special site created especially for promoting their goods. 

The feature of CR20 that allows teachers to post questions about anything that they are having trouble with and receive timely responses from other members is another feature that endears me to this site.  The first time that I asked for help (I posted some questions for this ethnography) I pondered whether anyone would actually respond and how long it would take, but within hours I had two replies.  Eventually, I hope to have more to contribute than questions and the occasional, “I have had a similar problem” because the environment should be interactive.  At the present time, most of my time is spent reading discussions and making the occasional benign comment.  Live conversations held at a set time are also a feature of CR20.  Numerous programs such as Eluminate, Adobe Connect, Skype and others are used to meet in this forum. 

There are amazing happenings taking place on CR20 that serve as great examples of ways educators can open the world up to their students.  A case in point involves a blog posting by a teacher in Australia who writes about a 9-year-old boy carrying an indigenous lizard down the hallway after recess.  The teacher arranged for the little boy to use Skype to show the lizard to high school students at a school near Seoul, Korea.  That is a prime example of a possible use of Web 2.0 technology and CR20 is the place to learn how.  All of the web tools known to humankind and matching discussions have links on CR20 making it a fountain of resources for teachers who are ready to spend a little time learning.


Tags for blogs related to this ethnography are: Classroom 2.0 ethnography and they are filed under the category entitled ethnography – EDUC 628 at Remonzer’s Weblog.


Still Stolling Along April 30, 2008

Filed under: EDUC 628 — remonzer @ 10:36 pm

Stoll’s chapter about isolation and the Internet reminded me of a conversation that I once overheard on the subject of soap operas.  One participant declared that she could not understand how some people could watch those shows day in and day out, week after week, and talk about the characters as if she personally knew them.  Another person responded with a story about her aunt who was very sick and for her those stories were a comfort.

 We might extend that thought to the Internet.  Not all of us who sign on everyday are shut-ins, but the Internet does satisfy a wide range of needs.  For example, where once people went to the mailboxes or the newspaper boxes to receive news in the morning, most people that I know get the latest, up-to-date information by signing onto the Internet.  Lots of people pay bills online, renew library books, check theater times, buy stuff, chat with others who have similar interest, take classes…it is a way of life.  Some times we actually get online just to have contact with others.  Still others that I know, after reading the news online, get up and go find someone to discuss what they have read.

 I don’t agree with the isolationist factor very much at all because there are so many opportunities for communication both for beginning and maintaining contact with others.  My family (and here I am including cousins, aunts, friends and friends of friends who live many miles apart) and I keep up with each other through MySpace, IM, and email.  We usually know what is going on everyday or at least every week.  Since all of our lives are so busy, I think it’s pretty great that we are able to do this. Sometimes we share web sites and info that we have learned via the web.  We don’t have time to sit down and write letters or, for that matter, involve ourselves in a long phone conversation everyday. 

 Furthermore, when I consider all that the Internet has to offer in addition to being able to maintain connections with people, I think it is a much better value than postage stamps and telephone bills.  We all know that driving to see our families and friends who live in far-off exotic places some 50 miles away is a special trip these days because of gas prices.   Maybe having the Internet will pacify some of those problems of not being able to travel as easily as we once did. 

 The Internet has changed our way of life, but I don’t know that we are going to become a culture of people who sit inside our homes with only our online friends for companionship.  I think there will always be folks who want to play sports, watch sports, or involve themselves in other physical activities.  Many people don’t like to read and will find other ways to occupy their time.  Unless something drastic happens, I don’t think anyone is going to force us to spend time any more time online than we decide is right for us.



Stolling along April 23, 2008

Filed under: EDUC 628 — remonzer @ 10:45 pm

I am officially over halfway through reading Stoll’s High Tech Heretic and will likely finish reading it before the end of the week.  But, after I read an op-ed article entitled Clueless in America in yesterday’s New York Times, I thought this would be a good time to  stop and share a few of my thoughts.  Some points from the article include the fact that a kid drops out of high school every 26 seconds in this country and none of the political candidates seem to be addressing the situation.  Quotes from the article:

From Allan Golston, the president of U.S. programs for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, “In math and science, for example, our fourth graders are among the top students globally. By roughly eighth grade, they’re in the middle of the pack. And by the 12th grade, U.S. students are scoring generally near the bottom of all industrialized countries.”

Many students get a first-rate education in the public schools, but they represent too small a fraction of the whole.

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, offered a brutal critique of the nation’s high schools a few years ago, describing them as “obsolete” and saying, “When I compare our high schools with what I see when I’m traveling abroad, I am terrified for our work force of tomorrow.”

Said Mr. Gates: “By obsolete, I don’t just mean that they are broken, flawed or underfunded, though a case could be made for every one of those points. By obsolete, I mean our high schools – even when they’re working as designed – cannot teach all our students what they need to know today.”

Some matters that I read about in this article came as a big surprise.

On to Stoll:  First off, I agree with some of what Stoll is saying in the chapter referred to as Calculating Against Computers.  A little disclaimer first:  I am not a math teacher and I am also not exactly a math whiz.  I did manage to earn an Associate of Science degree without computers.  In fact, graphing calculators were the only type of “machine” that we were allowed to use.  My students would say that I am “old school” and I don’t mind that because I am.  I think that students should be taught to work algebraic equations out by hand and that their problem solving attempts should be a part of the test.  By the way, I think a test for math should be of the paper and pencil variety. 

 Admittedly, it has been a few days since I participated in a math class.  But, I do know that our school recently abandoned a software program called Accelerated Math because it was not helping most of the students learn high school math.  The main problem seems to be that students in a classroom were left to their own devices to work math problems at their own level.  Most of the math classes had 30+ students and I can understand how the concept of AM might appeal to teachers, but it didn’t work for us.  Basically, it worked like this:  Each math class had a library of 140 objectives; usually the teacher selected five for a student to work on a time.  Using printed worksheets and scantron sheets, students worked on exercises and practices until they were ready to take a test.  Being ready required a student to achieve 80% of an objective and to then to be able to move on, 80% must be achieved on the test over the objective. The practices contained a review problem from previous objectives.  This is where our students got tangled.    For the majority of our students, the review question was difficult because the ability to work the problems had not gone into long term memory.  Most had learned enough to pass the test for the day.  We have since gone back to math classes where the teacher uses textbook, chalkboard, and chalk in a way much similar to what Stoll seems to be advocating.  Our students are doing better in math. 

 Accelerated Math is not a bad program, but it should not be the sole method of instruction.  There are other programs that we use in our school such as A+LS software, which are good for practice and enrichment, but I think there should be a balance between a teacher-delivered instruction and software when teaching math.

 Balance is another gauntlet taken up by Stoll.  I don’t quite agree with his contention that, “…it’s possible to do perfectly well without any computers or high-tech teaching devices.”  Yes, it is possible to teach a child the things he or she needs to know without a computer, but computers are used in all levels of education now and students need to know how to manage class work in this setting.  High Tech Heretic is around ten years old, though, and I imagine computers are used even more now than when the book was written.

 Another point that I agree with is that real live science lab experiments are probably better for learning than computer simulations.  It could be because that is the way that I learned these subjects.  Once more, we could strive for balance.  Simulations might be used for an advance organizer and to stimulate interest.   When the kids get to the real lab, they might know more of what to expect.  Or, in cases of cash-strapped school systems, a simulation might be better than no class at all.

 Yet another quote from the book that caught my attention was from Paul Roberts who writes multimedia essays, “The irony of the information revolution is that consumers neither like nor expect long, densely written texts on their computer screens.  Long texts addle the eyes …”  Stoll is lamenting the fact that the art of storytelling is lost using multimedia and he mentions all the fancy graphics, video, colors, and animation that are thrown into the story.  I don’t think books will go away, but it is hard to read a book online.  In fact, I think this blog has run too long and I am going to close it now because I personally have trouble reading long blogs.  Many of the blogs in my reader I find interesting, but I just don’t have time to read them all and my eyes can’t stand the strain of reading very many long blogs at one time so often I opt for a few short ones.   But, I do see his point that storytelling should not be lost.

  Maybe there are some things that we can learn from Stoll to get our kids back on track and reduce our shameful dropout rate.  I will have more to say in a day or two.  (Shorter next time.)



Presentation for seriousness April 20, 2008

Filed under: EDUC 628 — remonzer @ 5:04 pm

Last fall, I began this odyssey of learning in an online environment and felt some of the same bewilderment that many of you who are taking a class with Dr. Lowell for the first time are experiencing this semester.  ‘Twarnt too long before I was dogpaddling, sometimes furiously and others a little calmer, but always, trying to keep afloat. 

 Last week, something happened that brought much of what I have been working on in my classes into clearer focus.  I had what I will call a mini-epiphany, for lack of a better word.  Anyway, here is what happened.  Teachers in my school are preparing to grade portfolios and on a particular day we were watching a video of a lady explaining the scoring process.  She was seated in a chair in what appeared to be a library setting.  The background included wooden bookshelves, nice paint job on walls, potted plants in the background and wooden tables and chairs.  All in all, a nice, warm setting.  I believe the paint was green and I remember much of the other detail because I can only listen to a motionless speaker for a finite amount of time before I start to look around for something else on which to focus.

 Our team leader provided refreshments for us and that was a nice diversion, but, thanks to Dr. Miller’s class – Multimedia Design for the Classroom – I began to think about how I would make the same presentation that we were viewing.  Among my ideas was the creation of an animation along with the addition of an interactive feature easily incorporated into SmartBoard presentations.

 I am not trying to make light of the importance of portfolio training/grading.  It is SUPER IMPORTANT here in the Bluegrass State.  I know that.  My point is that since I have been involved in the process of learning and teaching in an online environment, my thinking on presentation possibilities has expanded.  Also, I do realize that the training video was geared to adults and we shouldn’t expect to be entertained and amused during a serious training session of this nature.  That said, I confess that I began to think about the glazed look I sometimes see in my students’ eyes and some of the activities that I try to add to my lessons so that I won’t lose them.

 Maybe I was more amused than I should have been, but I felt a little more like a 21st century learner that day.


Yay Community Colleges!! April 12, 2008

Filed under: EDUC 628 — remonzer @ 9:29 pm

I was surprised to learn from this post that community colleges at one time had been free and that during the 1930s, 1940s, and early 1950s, the cost of attendance was not that much different from larger public universities.  Alas, that has changed. 

Community colleges have helped many people transition from one job to another when they lost jobs or when they had to return to school for other reasons.  In the past, many people have chosen to attend these schools because they were in the neighborhood and the cost of attendance was not as high as larger colleges and universities.  With all of the outsourcing of jobs in this present day and time, I just wonder what people who can’t find a job that pays a living wage in this country are going to do if they also can’t afford training to find the work that is available.  I am pro-community college because that is where some of the best learning experiences of my life occurred. 

I recall a story that one of the professors told me about his experience with community colleges.  His first teaching job was at a community college in a rural area.  He was ambitious and desired to travel to other places so he applied and was granted an interview at a college – I don’t remember now if it was a private or public institution – but, it wasn’t a community college.  Anyway, the interview was going well until the fact came up that he had been teaching at a community college.  He said that the interview ended there and he was thanked for his time.  Afterwards, he was not able to move out of the community college system and eventually settled where he was.  I don’t understand why he wasn’t given more of a chance.  By the time that I had him for class, he had written a book to use for teaching basic computing to his students.  It was and is (I still have it) a great textbook.  Very easy to understand and follow.  He was also a very good teacher. 

I wrote all that to say that community colleges sometimes get a bum rap. 

Below I have added a follow-up to Traci’s comments, “Well, lets take a look at exactly what resources the larger universitities are utilizing!  I understand that a university the size of UK would require a lot of funding to ensure that the school can continue to operate but when so much funding is being spent in their athletic programs and for their coaches, the price tag immediately goes up.  I also understand that athletics bring in a lot of funding but the majority of those that the tuition cost is being transfered on to doesn’t even participate in an athletic program.”

Because I was intrigued by the statement in Mulling Tuition Policy at Community Colleges that community college tuition once nearly equaled that of public universities, I did a little research into possible reasons for such huge increases in costs and found the quote below in an article from U.S. News & World Report of October 24, 2006,  “Also, school officials say that the costs of running a university are rising faster than the consumer price index. University officials have compiled their own inflation gauge, which they call the higher education price index, to track the things they buy, such as lab equipment, scientific journals, professor salaries, and the like. This index rose 5 percent in the 12 months that ended June 30, 2006. The CPI was up only 4.3 percent during that period. Driving college inflation are factors like a 200 percent increase in the prices of scholarly journals over the past 20 years, said David Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. In addition, many colleges are feeling pressure from students and parents to upgrade dorms, gyms, and other facilities. Some surveys report that most incoming freshmen, for example, have never shared a bedroom, and are choosing colleges that offer them more expensive single apartments.”

My questions are:  Why have the prices of scholarly journals risen so much? What about sharing of the wealth?  Also, I can understand a parent’s concern over whether their child’s living conditions are sanitary and safe, but why can’t they share a dorm room with at least one other student like college students have done for years? 

I agree with Tracy’s assessment as posted in her blog and that is, ” I am a big fan of smaller community colleges because I feel that individuals can receive a really good educational experience without the high cost of the larger schools.  The main important aspect that needs to be considered when attending a post-secondary institution is what your major will be and what is the best school to offer the program in which you are interested.”


One-to-One Computing April 5, 2008

Filed under: EDUC 628 — remonzer @ 11:35 pm

I think this article fits right in with our current discussions on professional development. Honestly I haven’t heard anyone in our district mention the implementation of “one-to-one computing,” but this article contends that it is coming to a school system near you very soon.  The “one-to-one initiative” refers the idea of supplying computers for every student and teacher in an effort to bring teaching and learning practices into a workable model for the 21st century. 

However, according to the article, “… talk of a one-to-one initiative in any district is premature unless schools and districts institute effective leadership practices and provide teachers and administrators with high-quality professional development.”  This seems to be a recurring theme. 

The article goes on to state that the following problems should be clearly addressed before even trying to implement such a program:

  • What should teaching and learning look like across a district?
  • What should communication look like within schools, between schools, and with outside stakeholders?
  • How should teachers, administrators, and central office personnel collect and use student and school data to inform decision-making
  • How might one-to-one computing enable steady progress toward those goals

According to the article, the key to achieving the goals of the one-to-one program is that professional development workshops must be thoroughly comprehensive, covering in detail every aspect of the curriculum, instruction, and assessment.  Additionally, PD must be customized to meet the needs of teachers, administrators, and students.  Technology should be used augment instruction.  In other words, the curriculum must be decided upon and then technological resources should be decided upon for implementing the curriculum.  Additionally, these goals should include both face-to-face and online learning activities.

This article is quite detailed in it suggestions for teaching teachers how to work with 21st century tools. Specific suggestions include training in basic laptop skills, program specific training, integration training, classroom coaching, and ongoing training.  Even more particulars about how to develop the one-to-one program are included in the article, which I will not include in this blog for the sake of brevity.

An important point to note is that because behavioral changes are also part of the one-to-one initiative, development of the skills to cope with those changes must also be included in professional development activities.

Clarksville ISD, located in Red River County, Texas, is cited as an example of a school district where the one-to-one initiative is making a difference in the way students are learning.  It is a rural county of nearly 14,000 residents of which one-third of those ages 25 and above did not graduate from high school and 17 percent of the entire population lives below the poverty line. 

The plan that the leadership teams devised to implement the program is explained in practically complete detail in the article.  One of the parts that stood out to me as especially important is found in this quote, “…Clarksville ISD provided ongoing professional development workshops and coaching to gradually build teachers’ skills and comfort levels with their new technologies, which included notebook computers, productivity software, email, online instructional resources, an academic search engine, and additional software programs. The district found that creating a plan to help teachers build from one skill to the next, rather than providing all the training at once, helped to reduce frustration and anxiety, particularly among teachers who were initially intimidated by technology.”

Apparently things are looking up for Clarksville because discipline referrals are down and attendance is up.  Also, community participation in school events is up.  Middle school math scores are up 43 percent.  The county is continuing PD activities that emphasize aligning the curriculum as they go and making changes where necessary all the while implementing technological resources.

The article contains other examples of how professional development is being designed for specific school needs.  A common thread among the different implementations is that it is treated as a work in progress that is often updated with many follow-up sessions to address areas that need attention.  Another common and important thread among those who are experiencing success with the program is that those who are in charge of professional development are keeping themselves current and aware of how to be effective leaders.




21st Century Bloom April 4, 2008

Filed under: EDUC 628 — remonzer @ 11:02 pm

Between the last two semesters Bloom’s Taxonomy has come up and different views have been expressed, some of which lead to the fact that my thinking in this realm are enormously affected by BT because I committed the list to memory during my undergraduate studies and am now hardwired for them. 

That is one of the reasons that I was glad to find this article at:  The title is Bloom’s Taxonomy Blooms Digitally. 

It is quite lengthy, but I will try to summarize.  For those who are interested in more detail, please check out the site.

 Fast forward to the 21st century and Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy List looks like this:


recognizing, listing, describing, identifying, retrieving, naming, locating, finding, Bullet pointing, highlighting, bookmarking, social networking, Social bookmarking, favorite-ing/local bookmarking, Searching, Googling.


interpreting, Summarizing, inferring, paraphrasing, classifying, comparing, explaining, exemplifying, Advanced searching, Boolean searching, blog journaling, twittering, categorizing and tagging, commenting, annotating, subscribing.


The digital additions and their justifications are as follows:

  • Running and operating – This is the action of initiating a program or operating and manipulating hardware and applications to obtain a basic goal or objective.
  • Playing – The increasing emergence of games as a mode of education leads to the inclusion of this term in the list. Students who successfully play or operate a game are showing understanding of process and task and application of skills.
  • Uploading and Sharing – uploading materials to websites and the sharing of materials via sites like flickr etc. This is a simple form of collaboration, a higher order thinking skill.
  • Hacking – hacking in its simpler forms is applying a simple set of rules to achieve a goal or objective.
  • Editing – With most media, editing is a process or a procedure that the editor employs


comparing, organizing, deconstructing, Attributing, outlining, finding, structuring, integrating, Mashing, linking, reverse-engineering, cracking, mind-mapping, validating, tagging.


The digital additions and their explanations are as follows:

  • Blog/vlog commenting and reflecting – Constructive criticism and reflective practice are often facilitated by the use of blogs and video blogs. Students commenting and replying to postings have to evaluate the material in context and reply.
  • Posting – posting comments to blogs, discussion boards, threaded discussions. These are increasingly common elements of students’ daily practice. Good postings like good comments, are not simple one-line answers but rather are structured and constructed to evaluate the topic or concept.
  • Moderating – This is high level evaluation; the moderator must be able to evaluate a posting or comment from a variety of perspectives, assessing its worth, value and appropriateness.
  • Collaborating and networking – Collaboration is an increasing feature of education. In a world increasingly focused on communication, collaboration leading to collective intelligence is a key aspect. Effective collaboration involves evaluating the strengths and abilities of the participants and evaluating the contribution they make. Networking is a feature of collaboration, contacting and communicating with relevant person via a network of associates.
  • Testing (Alpha and Beta) – Testing of applications, processes and procedures is a key element in the development of any tool. To be an effective tester you must have the ability to analyze the purpose of the tool or process


designing, constructing, planning, producing, inventing, devising, making, programming, filming, animating, Blogging, Video blogging, mixing, remixing, wiki-ing, publishing, videocasting, podcasting, directing/producing, creating or building mash ups.

This article helps me to interblend the elements of Bloom’s Taxonomy that I know by heart with 21st century tools and teaching possibilities.