First-grader Thomas Tsangaropoulos stands before a laptop during his Spanish class at Lake Parsippany School, smiles broadly into its tiny webcam and waves.
"Hola," he says to the image of a young girl appearing on the computer and on a large screen in the front of the Parsippany classroom. "Me llamo Thomas."
Across town, first-grader Mariah Colon peers into a laptop at Troy Hills School and waves.
"Hola. Buenos días," she says.
Remember when technology in schools meant computer labs and internet connections? New Jersey teachers and students are slowly but increasingly using the tools of Web 2.0 — the so-called second generation of the web that includes creative, collaborative, shared content.
Students are writing on wiki pages, blogging about their classroom activities, recording audio files for band practice, videoconferencing with people around the globe and chatting online about literature.
For a generation that has embraced a joystick and a mouse since they were toddlers, these technologies can help them learn how to be creative, how to communicate and how to work together, said Lisa Thumann, a senior specialist in technology education at Rutgers University’s Center for Mathematics, Science and Computer Education.
Continue reading at www.nj.com.
See a list of helpful online tools for educators put together by EdWeek Digital Direction here. The list includes Digital Storytelling Wiki, Watch Know and Learning Disabilities Online.
The co-founder of Wikipedia has launched a Web site designed to offer free access to thousands of education-related videos for students ages 3-18.
Larry Sanger, who helped create Wikipedia and has since left the organization, says the new site, www.watchknow.org, will allow students and teachers to sort through a library of online videos by content, and pick out what they need. Topics range from math and science to history. The site is meant to house and organize videos that are free and available online, yet which most people don't know how to find.
The site was launched in October. So far it offers 11,000 videos in 2,000 categories. The contributions have come from National Geographic and Google Videos, among many other sources.
Sanger describes it as "YouTube meets Wikipedia." He adds in a statement: "WatchKnow.org links together content from traditional sites, and also allows users of the site to improve the organization of the video categories, which makes finding the video you need much easier."
Being able to read and write multiple forms of media and integrate them into a meaningful whole is the new hallmark of literacy.
It is no coincidence that the words letter and literacy look alike. When the concept of a literate person arose centuries ago, it referred to those few who were considered educated, precisely because they "knew the letters."1 To this day, the prevailing definition of a literate person is still someone who has the ability to read, write, and understand words.
Yet the word literacy rarely appears by itself anymore. Public narrative embraces a number of specialty literacies, including math literacy, research literacy, and even citizenship literacy, to name a few. Understanding the evolving nature of literacy is important because it enables us to understand the emerging nature of illiteracy as well. After all, regardless of the literacy under consideration, the illiterate get left out.
At the epicenter of the evolving nature of literacy is digital literacy, the term du jour used to describe the skills, expectations, and perspectives involved in living in a technological society. How has digital literacy evolved in the 25 years since digital tools began appearing in classrooms? And how can we make it more responsive to our present needs?
Continue reading about the publication, including the eight new media guidelines for teachers, here at www.ascd.org.
Eyes roll when Rabbi Hayim Herring tells his fellow clergy that they should spend an hour a day on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
Listeners at his seminars exchange smirks when he says blogging should be considered mandatory. They look aghast when he recommends posting short video clips from their sermons on YouTube.
It's a lot better than the reaction he used to get.
"They used to look at me as if I'd just said a four-letter word," said Herring, the former senior rabbi at Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park and now the executive director of STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal). But in its seven years, the organization has seen more converts to what many call one of the dirtiest words in religion: marketing.
Across the country, religious congregations have turned more to marketing to keep the members they have and attract others to their emptying pews. The trend is accelerating as the Internet and its explosion of social networking sites add entirely new ways to connect on spiritual issues.
But the growing emphasis on new salesmanship tools alarms others who say the onslaught undermines the idea that spirituality should be a respite from the constant clamor of commercialism.
Continue reading at www.startribune.com.
Twitter actually can be a helpful study tool, some students and educators say
Sammy Garey, a recent graduate of Burlingame High School in Burlingame, Calif., is a devoted user of Twitter. She's used the website with her classmates for online book discussions for her AP English class, in which they post and share feedback, analysis, and questions about novels such as Crime and Punishment. Garey also turns to the website to check breaking news and feed her interest in science by following the tweets of specialized Twitter accounts such as MedUpdates and DrugInfo.
Twitter, the Web service that lets people post and share messages of 140 characters or fewer, is enjoying a popularity surge in general. But on the education front in particular, some forward-thinking college professors are embracing it and finding ways to include it in courses, and teachers at the K-12 level are also experimenting with the social networking website. Using Twitter in a classroom setting can bring challenges, but some educators and students think it's a tool that can boost the learning process.
Continue reading at www.usnews.com.
MacKenzie Leake has finished "Pride and Prejudice" and is preparing for "Wuthering Heights," Nos. 1 and 2 on the summer reading list for juniors at St. Mary's Episcopal School.
This week, she'll be posting her reflections in a wiki, a private Web site created by her teacher to hold all the photos, video clips and observations starting to pour in.
Georgian England and Heathcliff, meet Web 2.0.
For hundreds of students in Shelby County, it means no more summer reading reports due the first week of school.
No quizzes, no worksheets, no timed essay tests. The only paper is the pages in the books themselves, and with Kindle digital books, even that's optional.
Instead, they are posting in blogs, combing newspapers and YouTube for modern examples of the timeless conflicts, or shooting their own videos. The Web sites are not only free but offer access around the globe, important if you go to a remote summer camp, for instance.
"Because I knew I was going to post, I paid more attention and highlighted some things in the book, which I usually don't do," said Rebecca McAlexander, a sophomore at White Station High School, posting to nicenet.org on "How to Read Literature like a Professor."
Continue reading here.