Saturday, April 10, 2010

Blogs: The Internet Journal

Before I took Ed Tech and Design, I was vaguely familiar with what a blog was, but I didn't really know why anyone would take the time to read them, let alone make them. But after we started working with blogs in the classroom, I have to admit that I was both impressed and excited about the idea of using them in the classroom. So, I decided to do a little research to see how teachers utilize blogs in their lesson plans, if any actually do, and whether or not students visit teacher-made blogs. Education World, the Educator's Best Friend, is an amazing web resource that consolidates tons of educational information for teachers into one intensely useful website. Here, I found an article on blogs that opened my eyes to the possibilities that they offer educators in the classroom. Blogging? It's Elementary, My Dear Watson! is the title of the article which I am about to discuss.

Apparently, blogging started off as a web tool for anyone who wanted to write about anything and post it online for others to view and comment on. One famous story of blogging is that of Julie Powell, a creative writing major working for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation who, in 2002, began her blog called The Julie/Julia Project. Her goal was to cook all 524 recipes featured in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking
in 365 days. The blog gained a large following and soon allowed Julie to publish several books and have a film created based on her story. To get back on track, blogging can mean just about anything to an individual, and it has certainly started to become more and more prominent in the classroom today.

According to the blogging article, students find it more meaningful to write if they have a real audience that they know will be reading what they compose. Using blogs in the classroom will allow students to share and view material that they have created. Teachers who blog can post topics or interesting articles, pictures and videos and then ask their students to view the material and blog about their opinions of the materials. Not only may students comment on teacher blogs, they can also create blog responses. Web-based blogs are great for middle and high school students because they are easy access and usually free. For younger students, using a blog may be a great way for them to develop their writing skills while at the same time learning about new issues and subjects. Some teachers may assign students blog posts for homework, asking them to review the lesson learned in class and give their overview or thoughts on what was learned. Blogs provide another outlet for communication between students and teachers.

This video was made by a tenth grade communications technology class. It gives the top 10 reasons to use blogs in the classroom and is quite persuasive and the information presented is valid.

Blogging the classroom is a great idea for educators. I am really enjoying my blog that I created for Ed Tech and I plan on keeping it after the class is over. I want to continue blogging for my own enjoyment, and hopefully for the enjoyment of others as well. Here are some different blog sites that you can visit to learn more about blogs, or to start your own!


Blog photo from IowaAEAOnline iCLIPART
Video from

Thursday, April 8, 2010

One Laptop Per Child

Imagine if every child in the world, no matter their economic status or level of poverty, was given the access to a fully functional, internet capable laptop. Wouldn't this be an amazing accomplishment? The One Laptop Per Child Association, Inc. is a U.S. non-profit organization whose mission involves providing computer access to even the world's most impoverished children. Their vision is simply revealed in their name, to provide each child with a laptop (One Laptop Per Child). Mission statement: "To create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning. When children have access to this type of tool they get engaged in their own education. They learn, share, create, and collaborate. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future." You can visit the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) homepage for basic information about the organization's efforts-

OLCP is not a laptop project, it is an education project. The organization wants to provide laptops to children to give them increased opportunities for learning and growth. The laptop created specifically for this mission is the XO laptop.

The XO is a learning tool specially designed with children in mind. It is about the size of a small textbook, made of durable materials, and flexibly assumes a variety of configurations: standard laptop, e-book and gaming device. Edges are rounded, display are ultra low power and ultra-high resolution, and it includes internal speakers, microphone, camera, and wireless antennas, with external headphone jacks, 3 USB ports, a battery that can be charged by AC outlet or DC solar panel, and an SD slot for photo, video and other media content. It also includes a standard keyboard with keyboard "shortcuts" allowing for easy navigation when the laptop is in e-book or tablet mode. The average expected life span for the XO laptop is around 5 years, and they are undergoing both factory and field testing to determine further lifespan estimations. Photo from

OLPC puts emphasis on software tools for exploring and expressing, rather than instruction. For this reason, the XO laptop features a unique type of interface, called Sugar. Sugar is specifically designed for children and is meant to facilitate learning through creativity, expression, sharing and collaboration, and reflection. It is a "Zoom" interface that captures children's world of fellow learners with graphic representations of community, connection and activity. To learn more about the specifics of Sugar, visit the area of the OLPC website-

OneLaptopPerChild Flickr Photostream

The countries receiving laptops from the OLPC effort are many. Four of the most prominent areas to pilot the first XO laptops were Peru, the Middle East, Rwanda and Uraguay. You can view all of the OLPC deployments, as of March 2010, here: GoogleMaps OLPC Deployments
Children are benefitting greatly from OLPC's mission. For the very first time, children in regions which may have never been able to have access to computer technology are now being given the opportunity to an endless supply of activities which foster creative learning and development. OLPC has a Flickr photostream that is frequently updated with highlight photos and videos of children using the XO in the field. Visit on Flickr for a look at how the XO is helping children learn in ways they may have never dreamed.

You can help give children the opportunity to learn with an XO by becoming a part of the OLPC movement. You can donate one or more unused laptop at You can also host your own fundraising drive or just spread the word to your friends and colleagues. Even the smallest donation or amount of participation can go a long way. The more people that get involved, the closer OLCP will get to fulfilling their mission statement: One Laptop Per Child.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Prezi: The Amazing New Presentation Platform

When you're required to give a presentation for class, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Microsoft PowerPoint, right? Sure, everyone can use PowerPoint and, for the most part, it can be helpful when presenting ideas and images to a large audience. But these days, PowerPoint seems dull, boring and not very effective for keeping the attention of a group of students. PowerPoint may have worked for presentations in the past, but today a new presentation tool is blowing audiences out of the water. Meet Prezi, The zooming presentation editor. Prezi uses a map layout and zooming tool to show contextual relationships between subjects and ideas. With font hierarchies and different templates to choose from, Prezi gives users the chance to customize their presentation layout whichever way he or she would like. On the Prezi website, there are tutorials and directions to create endless Prezies, and signing up for a basic Prezi is free! I have already created two Prezies, one during Ed. Tech lab and one to use in a presentation I am giving for Philosophy class. I can organize my ideas and points that I want to cover in my presentation and the Prezi allows me to create a path according to what I want to cover, through first point to last. Using Prezi, teachers could organize their entire curriculum and lesson plans in one document! Prezi allows for endless possibilities, which is why I think that it should be utilized in the classroom often. Visit to sign up for a Prezi and explore the cool features it has to offer! An example of a Prezi (my "What is Courage" Prezi) is featured as the image in this blog.

Here is an introduction video to the features of Prezi. It is a pretty awesome tool!