Sunday, January 27, 2008

Blog #1

Rattling around the photosharing sites has been a nice obligation to undertake! It was fun-and reminded me of Resnick’s Lifelong kindergarten and Playful Learning concepts. I can see why this assignment led the field of posts-it was easy to become immersed in the artistry and wander around the virtual galleries. The potential of these sites to model and inspire and to engender appreciation and awe-that potential alone makes the sites worthy educational tools.

The sites I visited included flickr, photobucket, deviantart, kodak easy share gallery, smugmug, snapfish, phanfare, atpic, webshots, zooomr, woophy, and picasa. I learned that photosharing sites originated in the mid to late 1990’s-arising mostly from services providing online ordering of prints. I learned that some sites are free, while others charge consumers to host and share photos. I learned that captions or “tags” can be added to photos and that photos can be edited and enhanced (as in snapfish). I learned that photos can be organized according to taxonomy-a directory like or gallery structure organized by topic (example mountains) or “folksonomy” (another addition to my technical dictionary!)-where the organization depends on the people in the pictures. I found that some sites include drawings or paintings as well as photos and I sometimes found it hard to differentiate between photo and drawing (check this out). I found the quality and size of photos varied (I liked flickr’s and smugmug’s), but was annoyed by the ads that accompanied some sites especially the webshots, which offered me a congratulatory free laptop for checking in with them (I passed on the offer). I liked sites that provided links to the artist’s page so that you could see the artist’s gallery (like photobucket and deviantart). This is often the way that I choose reading material-if I like a book by a certain author, I’ll often trust that other books that he or she has written will also be ones that I’ll like. I liked the video component of photobucket’s site. I found that you could buy almost anything-cards, frames, mugs, aprons, neckties, blankets, coasters-with a photo of your choice on it from kodak easy share gallery. I liked the way woophy set up its site with the map of the world. This would be a great way for my third grade social studies students to cue into photo information about Peru, India, Ukraine, and Tunisia: our countries under study. I loved the photo titled “they’re not going to be happy about this down at the henhouse” from zooomr-it would be a great photo to use in our oology unit (oology is the study of eggs. We add this unit as an elective to our grade three science program).  

The issue of “virtual theft”-stealing someone else’s art-is one that becomes almost immediately apparent. Joyce Valenza writes about copyright/copyleft/fair use in her blog. She directs us to a good starting point for educating students about copyright with a link to Sharing Creative Works-an illustrated primer by Roberts, Royer and Phillips.

I think these photosharing sites could be useful at any grade level depending on the comfort level teachers have with technology. For proof that even young children can engage constructively in technology view a grade one class’s video.

Our school Christmas concert coordinators are often ringing their hands over concert backdrops. As I wandered around the photos, I couldn’t help but think that if they could be project onto screens for backdrops, it would be awesome. I also thought the art on these sites would make great story starters for creative writing and could be included to enhance and illustrate student writing.  

I also think that visiting these sites promotes collaboration-even making comments on the entries does this and that providing opportunities to use these sites contributes to a spacial intelligence of Gardner’s MI theories.

On a personal level, I can see the utility of using a photosharing site to keep in contact with my friends and family. I can also see it would be a great way to journal-both professionally (following FOIP standards, of course), and personally especially on travels.
I look forward to further exploration and virtual travels(!) of photosharing sites.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Why blog?

Here's  a testimonial for blogging enthusiasts: CBC's Test the Nation was just on TV and .......the top individual score (57/60) belonged to someone from the Bloggers team!!!   As well, the Bloggers team won the top overall score (50/60).  Kinda fun!  Can it mean that blogging makes you smarter?!  Or that bloggers are just smart to begin with?!

Friday, January 18, 2008


My name is Linda Morgan.  I'm a third grade teacher at Jasper Elementary School in beautiful Jasper, Alberta, and I'm the mother of 2 great daughters - my eldest is in her second year of studies at the U of A and my youngest is attending Grade 12 in Wales, in the UK.  My maiden name is Appelgren, hence the "human rebus" supplied.

Setting up my blog has been a bold step for me.  I'm a self-confessed Luddite who waited until my mid forties to purchase a microwave oven, I still prefer roll-down car windows to power ones, I secretly harbour the belief that cell phones are bad for my health, I've never understood the allure of big screen/satellite dish television and I applaud those few among us who still use snail mail and survive sans home computers.  And yet, here I am!  Like a smoker who's kicked the habit and becomes the staunchest and most outspoken anti-smoking lobbyists EVER, I'll probably end up as a technomaniac!  (As well I should, given my position as an educator, and considering the powerful roles that technology can fulfill in current classrooms.)

Diving into the information on technology has been a little like holding a water tumbler under the faucet but getting a Niagaran roar when the tap is turned on.  Or, it's a little like herding cats. (You've got to see the cat herding video:  I'm going to try to set up a link to the video at the end of my post.  Hold your breath!)  It seems like I'm being deluged with information and "running madly off in all directions" (can't remember which Shakespearean play to credit that with) at times, but I am determined to soldier on and I know I'll be glad I did.

I chose my blog publisher on the recommendation of one of my daughters and because it was one listed in the Assignment 1 Overview portion of the course.  Setting up the blog was much easier than I thought it would be.  I'm looking forward to expanding it and adding other things - such as links and videos.  I have also signed up for Facebook.  Interestingly, there was an article in Thursday's Edmonton Journal regarding young people (14 to 20 year olds) switching to Neopia more and more, as so many of their parents have signed up for Facebook.  The article suggests that Facebook is a kind of national water cooler for adults, while Nexopia is "the corner convenience store attracting their pierced and tatooed kids" (Edmonton Journal, January 17, 2008).  While my third grade students don't fit the demographic of Facebook users or bloggers, I'm guessing they'll eventually buy into blogging - or whatever shape it morphs into in the future.  Considering that and given the varying teaching positions I've held, it's not improbable that some of my future teaching assignments will be with students who are avid social-site networkers, it would be reasonable of me to keep a pinkie on the pulse of technology as it applies to an important part of my students' lives.

I'm looking forward to the challenges of EDES 545!