Friday, March 28, 2008

Pen Pals - Oh, the memories

I don't know about you, but I remember the days of Pen Pals. These were simple days, when you went home after school, had a snack and read Highlights magazine with your parents. The best part of this was the pen pal section and finding the kid on the other side of the world who had something in common with you. For me, it was always gymnastics. And of course everyone's favorite gymnast, Nadia Comaneci!

So, what does that have to do with now? And especially what does it have to do with school? Well, I just read an article about how some teachers are using Web 2.0 tools to bring life back into old projects.

My favorite part of this article spoke about Pen Pals. The example used in the article:

"You’re studying about the Maritimes in Social Studies and you’ve registered on ePals for a pen pal from Newfoundland for each of your Grade 5 students. The students have sent a few e-mails back and forth, but like my 1960’s friend, they’ve discovered that written correspondence has its limitations. Desiring to take this learning experience to another level, you take advantage of the opportunities that Skype presents and set up a time when your class can Skype the class in the St John’s, Newfoundland. You’ve just provided a voice-to-voice learning experience that will expand the walls of your classroom and open up possibilities for your students to become global partners with students across the country or across the world."

Exactly! Or, how about teaching about the upcoming Olympics and have an athletic "pen" pal that you can root for, or finding a Nobel peace prize winner who can tell you all about why they won. And let's not forget about including Social Studies in all of this. Once your class has their pen pals identified, go ahead and locate them on a map. See how many countries you've touched.

I could go on and on, but that's enough for now. Enjoy!!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Drinking through a firehose

That's how I feel. There is so much information out there in the blogosphere, twitterverse and plain old regular web about what people are doing in the educational technology space that it's hard to keep up. One link brings you to ten more plus podcasts and workshops. It's fantastic but it's also completely overwhelming. So, here are some ways I am managing to keep up and some plans that I have to assess where my career should go. I hope that these items will help you too!

  • is a life saver! I've heard of this before but could never understand why I would need to have my bookmarks online or shared. Now, I know. The beauty for me is in a) categorizing bookmarks by topic and b) adding comments to remember why I wanted to bookmark it in the first place. Not only do I have my home PC with both Firefox and IE, I also have my work laptop and my work SunRay and now I can keep all my bookmarks consolidated and in order! YAY!
  • Multiple blogs. This blog is my first step in organizing my thoughts on various topics. I plan to create other blogs around other interests like Web 2.0 in the Enterprise and Online Safety. This will help me to keep all the thoughts and ideas swirling around in my head in one place. It also gives me the chance to experiment with lots of new technologies.
  • Create a web site. I have a ton of ideas for my website but before I could even begin I needed an old-fashioned offline spreadsheet to create categories of information that I would include on my website. This also includes how I will incorporate my blogs and other related technologies.
  • Research, research, research. What this means to me is that I have a "contact list" of people that I want to talk to. I'm doing informal interviews with people of all different backgrounds and experiences to make sure that I know where I want to go, what career options I have and what my interests & passions lead me to be successful at. Oh, the other big thing - get your current boss's support. My manager is awesome. He totally supports career development and makes exploration so much easier!
  • Be a shadow. Sit in on classes before making a decision to attend a certain school or program. Follow someone for a day who is already in the role you aspire to. Talk to your audience and make sure you understand their needs.
Just a few ideas to help you learn how to drink through the Educational Technology straw. :-)

Friday, March 21, 2008

What's this all about?

Sure, there are a ton of blogs out there already on this topic. And I'm happy to point you to my favorites! So, how will this one be different? Well, for one thing, it's from my perspective, of course. But what is my perspective. This will give you some background...

  • I have a business (marketing) background and an MBA in Management Information Systems.
  • I have worked for 13 years at various technology vendors including Netscape and Sun Microsystems.
  • My technology expertise is in the areas of software infrastructure, desktop/thin client solutions and now Web 2.0 technologies.
  • I have a passion for educating parents, teachers and youth about online safety.
  • I am pursuing a degree in Educational Technology.
So, you might ask, if I am not already an Educational Technology Specialist, why I am qualified to speak on this topic? Well, since I am drinking through the fire hose as they say, I want to share it with you, bit by bit, so that maybe you can drink it through a straw!

I hope to share tidbits of information with you in a summarized format to make it easy to understand and use.

Features of my site will include:
  • Tidbit for Today - one highlighted site or tool for the day
  • Big Win - an example of successful integration of technology in the classroom
  • In the Cloud - forward-thinking ideas for where we go next
Hope you enjoy!