Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Top 10 Web Tools for Educators, from Harvard Education Letter

For setting up websites to keep students current, Google Sites and Weebly are listed as the top tools.  Edmodo ranks at the top for posting assignments and other notices and for students to upload work and communicate with peers (see image to the right).

Wikispaces remains a popular tool for students to collaborate in creating web pages.

To set up forums, Chatzy or TodaysMeet allow students to collaborate in real time.  Twitter is not only catching on for microblogging, but is one of the fastest growing social networking sites, outpacing Facebook according to some sources.  Vocaroo and Voki record voices and other sounds for embedding in \web pagesn and the like.  Poll Everywhere is used to gather students' opinions.

For more information on these tools, check the Harvard Education page, Top 10 Tools for Educators. Let us know which of these tools are you use and how students respond. Which tools would you like to try and why?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Digital Media and the Age of Distraction

Not surprisingly, a recent stream of articles and books focus on Internet overload and loss of concentration.  In the blog, "8 Must- Reads About Digital Distraction and Information Overload," David Lavenda gives his list, and the titles alone speak to the concern:

Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction"I Can't Think!" - an article in Newsweek.
"Wired for Distraction?" from Time magazine
"Social Media Users Grapple with Information Overload" in USA Today
Your Brain on Computer, a 7-part New York Times special series with titles such as Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction and Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime
Hamlet's Blackberry by William Powers
The Shallows: What The Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr (See video interview with the author in next blog.)
The Tyranny of Email: The Four Thousand Year Journey to Your Inbox by John Freeman.
The Information: A History, A Flood, A Theory by James Gleick

Is our online life increasingly distracting us from reading? If so, we might not have time to check any of these readings to comprehend the implications biologically, chemically, socially of our new habits of mind. On the other hand, perhaps there is urgency to reading these pieces to fathom the impact of how our lives are changing.
In the  Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time, its author, David Ulin contends the quiet space needed for reading eludes us in our over-networked times.

What are the risks of living in an overly distracted world, where contemplation, quiet, and sustained reading threaten to be diminished? Have we acquiesced to the distractions, to the small fits of reading online, in chunks, with the classic book as a text slowly diminishing in value and as an activity of mind? Are these changes for the better as some technology gurus proclaim, or are they for the worse as the authors of the named text beseech us to believe?   

Image from Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction , NYT article

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Is the Internet Dumbing Us Down?

How the Internet is Affecting Our Brains?

Is the Internet affecting our power to concentrate? In this video, Nicholas Carr, author of the book, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, offers some insights based on his research. Check out the video, and don't get distracted. Leave some comments. Do you think the Internet is affecting our brains? Are we losing the power to concentrate? Should we tune out for a few days?