Web-based resources can promote student learning by making information and research faster and more accessible (though not always more reliable), presenting new ideas in new ways that might be easier for some student to understand, and giving students multiple opinions on topics. More information than ever before is available at “the click of a button.” Google seems to answer every question we have. Interaction with the web and its many sites can encourage students to ask more questions without embarrassment, to learn more without consuming too much time, to compare and contrast, etc. etc. Teachers can guide students to engaging sites that can also guide the curious to other sites, letting them learn more about what interests them, about the details they need to know, etc.
While the Internet is so fantastic for student research, students need to be reminded to verify the information retrieved. Anyone can post anything just about anywhere online, and that “anything” can be false or unproven. The Internet can also add to laziness, allowing kids to look up a book’s plot instead of reading it, and offers students a chance to plagiarize quite a bit. Teachers need to know how to monitor these possibilities, quiz students on what the Internet can’t tell them about a book, etc. Students need to form their own ideas also; they can’t always rely on Internet opinions to tell them what to think.
In the past, I’ve used web sources A LOT. Google is a life-saver that opens so many doors. Even Wikipedia is a helpful guide-though I know better than to use it as my source. I’ve always checked the legitimacy of the sites I do cite-looking for who runs them and for what reason, looking into where THEY found their information, etc. Professionalism and objectivity is crucial. Generally, my process fit the podcast’s suggestions, but the questions it suggested to use are very helpful for future searches.
This week’s assignment taught me how to work the program, which is very user-friendly and easy to pick up on. I was surprised by how much I DID like using Inspiration, considering the fact I never use concept maps, but I wish the program wasn’t SO simple. There are so many features it could offer that I would enjoy even more. Next time, all I’ll really be able to do to “improve” my project is to play around more with the graphics. The program’s rather limited in any other techniques. Still, I think some students would enjoy using the program to create graphics, projects, or just to formulate and organize ideas. Maybe I’ll use it if I ever have a presentation that would best be conveyed in a concept map.
The website kidspast.com has children take a “blast through the past” to learn about history. From the first glance, users are somewhat blinded by the colors, throwing Rule 5 out the window by using much more than three or four colors on the screen. Still, the site adheres to most of Chapter 6’s design principles. The only other rules they seemed to violate were Rule 10 (Keep line lengths between eight and ten words) and Rule 13 (Feature one idea per screen). Organization, emphasis, placement, and structure are generally very strong and well-designed, but the features and lists are too many, crowding the page with too much text, and the colors are distractingly garish and bright. I do, however, love the animated graphics the site uses.
Open content and open sources seem to be fantastic resources for teachers and their students. While educators certainly shouldn’t rely entirely on these sources, using them in the classroom expands the minds of both students and teachers, provides additional information for the curious or struggling, and makes teaching more efficient when it comes to time and money. Educators have access to so much free information, wisdom, and insight that they HAVE to take advantage of the opportunity. That doesn’t mean educators can lean back and depend solely on that. Many students will need the content translated and retaught through their teacher, and teachers have much to offer in their own knowledge bases and experiences. I use open content myself (the Open Office mentioned in the podcast), and didn’t even realize it! It allows me, as a student, to use the same tools at home in Microsoft without having to pay. It’s not perfect, but it helps so much. I would absolutely use open content materials to give my students more resources and information and would contribute to open content if given the time and expertise.
This week’s assignment didn’t teach me a TON about Microsoft Word because I’m already so familiar with the program, but I did use its graphics, tables, etc. more than normal, and it was interesting to see the newsletter come together onscreen. Practice makes perfect, and using these skills in actual projects (no matter how simple they appear) definitely hones my abilities and shows me how, in my career, I can create similar products in ways that are both quick and interesting. Next time, I hope my finished projects looks even more sophisticated, professional, and aesthetically stimulating. I want to keep my students interested even when the content isn’t very fascinating.
Word and Graphics 2 Newsletter
During high school, I’ve mainly used MS Word to complete English and History assignments, writing essays, sometimes making quizzes or outlines. Indirectly, I’ve used MS Word even more because so many of my tests, quizzes, and homework assignments have been made using Word. My teachers have used it a lot to make their own assignments or tests because it is so accessible, efficient, and easy to use. Chapter 9 of our book definitely opened my eyes to how Word can make assignments even more engaging for students through the incorporation of graphics, charts, etc. The chapter also helped me realize that I could encourage my students to share their knowledge in this engaging way without having to spend hours and hours instructing them on how to do this or that. Since I want to teach high school, my students will already have the basics down pretty well, and just showing them a few new techniques on the program could make both their work and their finished products much more intriguing for everyone.
As a student, I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to cite sources properly to respect copyright laws and avoid plagiarizing. As a student, I’ve also made a lot of mistakes doing this, but I’ve learned a lot and now know the proper formats, etc. Teachers of younger students would need to be patient about copyright and fair use because many kids don’t know the rules and need to be taught how to cite and why they must cite. Still, teachers have to be firm and clear about the consequences of copyright violations down the line. As a teacher, I should lead by example by citing my own sources in presentations I give, and I should always make sure my students understand the proper protocol.
I was surprised by the new things I did learn from the assignment this week. Though I’ve used Word to write for years, I truly haven’t taken advantage of all the graphics and charts. It was very interesting to see how I can add so many different shapes, graphs, and pictures, but I haven’t incorporated those skills into my outlook on the program. Hopefully, these additions will become more and more natural to me, allowing me to make papers more eye-catching and insightful. The practice will definitely come in handy someday as I make my own tests and quizzes, learning from my mistakes and enhancing the learning experience for my students.