August 28, 2008

Exhibits and Techno-Stress

Posted in Assignments, Updates tagged , , at 11:29 am by maf

I detect disturbance in the SLM force field.  If you are having techno-stress, read on – or, if you never have techno-stress yourself, use this post as a possible avenue for helping your teachers, who will likely suffer from techno-stress from time to time.

All of my classes are preparing online exhibits.  Yes, this is new.  I admit it – I was tired of doing it the old way. Once again, I see this as a way to explore a bit of new technology while satisfying some of our program objectives – and save some gas.

Focus on the content of your exhibit. The tech stuff is a side item. There is nothing on the rubric that gives you credit for having a gee-whiz-bang high-tech exhibit.  The technology will host the content; it has little value beyond its function.

I hear that the Comments requirement is causing some puzzlement.  In class, I said we would work around that if necessary.  OK, here’s a bit of a concession: I will provide a Comment forum in WebCT for all Exhibits that don’t have them naturally.  Perhaps this will help. Choose your technology for other reasons.

Once again, I emphasize: there are many simple tools out there that will do this job just fine.  Here are three simple possibilities:

  1. Google Document.  Yes, I really mean it. If you’ve never used them before, this is a great way to learn. You can meet all the requirements through this important 2.0 technology.  If you’ve used it before, you could use this as an opportunity to play around with some of its bells and whistles. (Check out the templates; play around with Forms.)
  2. Google Presentations. If you want a shareable Powerpoint-like tool, this is one.   (Slideshare is another.)
  3. Blogger.  If you haven’t tried blogging yet, it’s high time. Comments are built in.  I’m guessing here, but I’ve heard that Blogger is a tad easier than WordPress to set up.  (I chose WordPress because colleagues told me that it had more flexibility, and I haven’t been disappointed – but there have been some puzzles.) There are other nice blog tools out there, as well – Edublogs, for one.

Those are 3 basic tools that I hope all of you will graduate with a thorough understanding of, beyond this assignment.  More advanced or more willing to try something edgy?  Try YouTube … Glogster … a mini website with embedded features … Voicethread … any public wiki … Google Notebook … and there must be dozens more.

So I hear you thinking:

How will I ever learn all of these tools?  I can’t keep up!!

Here’s the answer:

You can’t. You won’t.

Here is a sane approach.  Granted, technology is non-negotiable – it is a part of life now, always has been (back to the first tool, whatever that was), and will continue to evolve throughout your career.  As a media specialist, you must devote a small amount of time on a regular basis to watching for new technologies, playing with them a bit, plugging them in as you see fit, and recommending appropriate ones to your learning community.   Most of all, you must be open-minded and watchful.  That’s really all that is required. Try to let go of your desire to control it or stay on top of it – surrender all of that.

Read a few blogs.  Listen to what your kids are doing with technology, and ask them to teach you. Go to a conference every year or so. Pursue the techy ideas that seem useful, and let the rest swirl on by.

End of sermon for today!  Please, consult your inner child and try to play with this.  You might enjoy yourself.