Sunday, February 26, 2012

Digital Libraries

Hello Group F,

The idea of a digital library is a great. It means any book could be accessed where Internet connections are available. This is a monumental step forward from having to search out and physically travel to a library to find a particular book.

If students all had access to a Kindle or other such device, this could be a powerful tool for student learning. Students could research a report they were doing in class rather than taking a trip to the library. Moreover, the size of the school library would have to increase in size bigger than the whole school campus in order to hold a mere fraction of the books available on the Internet. The number of digitized books are only bound to increase.

I have never used a Kindle, but I hear they are easy to read and generally lighter than many large books. This would all be nice for students. It lightens up their already too full backpacks.

Moreover, it would be nice if usual word in the text of the book could be linked to a dictionary, so the word's meaning could be conveniently  looked up. Hauling out a dictionary in the middle of reading is always a pain.

The article states that Kindle are only set up to deal with linear formats, read from the top to the bottom. This limits the current Kindle models from being able to handle all of the exciting features of e-books. However, newer models of Kindle-type devices may be able to handle the multi-media of e-books.

Kindles apparently are capable to read the text of many books aloud. This could be a great feature for visually impaired and the average student alike. It would be helpful for many students to be able to hear a line of text with a new word in it to hear how it is pronounced. Pronunciation can be challenging with a new word. Moreover, this read-aloud feature could be helpful if the student want to review something they have already read. However, students need to do the reading themselves most of the time and not rely on the read-aloud feature. I am not sure how this feature could be limited in a usable way, however.

Kindles sounds cool, can't wait.

Thanks for reading,


Sorry for the Sunday post.

Bull, G. and Sites, M. (2009, August). Digital Libraries: Shifting the Landscape .Learning and Leading with Technology,37 (1)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Virtual Interactive Field Trips

Hi Group F and Class,

I read "The beginner's guide to interactive virtual field trips" by Jan Zanetis (Zanetis, 2010).  As you may guessed from the article's title, this article is about the exciting teaching opportunity offered by interactive virtual field trips. I idea with a virtual interactive field trip is the whole class as a group using specialized video conferencing equipment can interact with a individual at a far away location. For instance, a class here in North San Diego County could interact, discuss and ask questions with a paleontologist at the Cleveland Natural History Museum, while she leads a tour of the museum via group video conferencing equipment. Another tour may perhaps visit a castle in Scotland with a local historian; the options are nearly endless, as long a the technology is available on both ends. This technology offers students the chance to view a facility and speak an expert at a far-flung location that could never be visited  as a class, due to the long distance.

This technology has benefits over a more-traditional field trip. First, the cost could be significantly reduced, though the museum or other facility may likely charge a fee. Nevertheless, if group video conferencing is available within the school district, the cost could be much lower than transporting the whole class there. Second, the class could take the interactive virtual tour in only an hour or so and be back in the classroom ready to have a reflective assignment based on the virtual field trip or move on to another topic, altogether. Traditional field trips, typically occupy the whole day and otherwise valuable teaching time may be lost during transportation times, etc. A virtual tour could be relatively quick. Finally, and likely most-importantly, the class could visit a far off location anywhere on earth, perhaps even outer space, as long as each location has the right technology. A class in San Diego could never take a field trip to a research station in Antarctica and meet with a top atmospheric scientist, but this could be possible with through an interactive virtual tour using group video conferencing equipment.

The Zanetis 2010 article gives links to 16 award-winning interactive virtual tour sites. I checked out a few of them, these being:
The Cleveland Institute of Music at,
George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate at
The Reef HQ Aquarium in Australia at 
and The National WWII Museum at

I was not able to interact with anyone during my short internet visit, as these things of course would need to be organized ahead to time; however, the information these sites offer looked promising. You should check them out yourselves. Below are some screen prints I took of Mount Vernon, Reef HQ Aquarium in Australia and The National WWII Museum websites, respectively.

This interactive virtual tour capability cannot truly replace the excitement of a traditional, in-situ field trip; nevertheless, it can open a wide world experiences to the classroom that could never realistically be reached otherwise, given the distances involved. This interactive virtual tour technology would likely be a fun, engaging and very education opportunity for a classroom. I can't wait to try it!

Pretty Cool,

Ryan Fitch

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

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Blogging Teacher

Hello class,

Looks like I am late here with my blog regarding teachers blogging...nevertheless, here it is.

Blogging is a useful tool for educators, especially those actively teaching. A blog can be used to provide up-to-date information on the current activities of the class. Here, projects, assignments and study topics can be shown to the blog viewer. Parents, students, even grandparents, could view the blog and see what activities the class is undertaking, how the class, as a whole, did on these activities and what activities are coming soon. I think a blog is a great way to keep the parents, and other concerned family members, involved in class activities. Moreover, parents could leave comments on past activities and those to come. This could be a way to ensure parents have their say in the on-goings of the class.

However, I am not really answering the question proposed by the Maxlow/Nielsen blog. They ask, "Is blogging worth the risk?" This question has an obvious answer, NO. If blogging presents a risk to the students, their families, the teacher or the school, district, etc., then blogging should not be done. This does not mean blogging should be done, it just means the blogging must not be risky.

Care should be taken by the blogging teacher to avoid risk. Personal information of individual students should never be released on the blog site. Information which should not be included in the blog would include, such things as student names, individual student grades or nay other personal information. However, information on the whole class, not specifically about any one student, is valid blogging material. For instance, an example of information that could be used in the blog is overall class average on a particular assignment. Here, no individual student information is provided, only the results of the whole class. Moreover, use of student images should be used with caution. A blogging teacher should get permission from the student and their parents before their images are used on the blog.

It seems to me that Lisa Nielsen, the author of the blog who said blogging is not worth the risk, took too many risks in her blog and those risks tainted her opinion of teacher blog use. Her school and fellow teachers raised warning flags about her blog and she became obstinate and went ahead anyway. If her school and fellow teachers felt she was doing the wrong thing with her blog, she should have first listened, spoke to the concerned parents, teachers and administrators and adjusted accordingly before going ahead with the blog. I think a teacher's blog should be non-controversial, if it is something is wrong.

See you on Tuesday,

Ryan Fitch