Monday, November 26, 2012

Reflection on an Idea Gone Wrong

Having seen some inspiring, teacher-created blogs (such as the one created by @mseideman, called "Not Another History Teacher"), I have been feeling some pressure to make more of an effort to incorporate blogging into my own reflective practice. One of the reasons that I've been reluctant to do this sooner is a fear that I don't have much to say that anyone else would want to read. As I begin to jump into this process, I am giving myself permission to write, without feeling the compulsion to make every entry a masterpiece. I hope I'm up to the challenge.

Deep breath...

Last week, I published a blog in an attempt to start a discussion about a new online history course that I recently learned about, called the Big History Project. At the urging of my professor, I created the blog as a part of a requirement for a class I'm taking, with the idea that the site would provide a service to other educators, while helping me to build my PLN. At the start of the process I asked some colleagues and peers for feedback. While I received some useful feedback, no one made mention of the fact that I might want to reconsider including a silly little Animoto video that I'd created as an experiment (and in my haste to publish, I didn't think much about it myself).

To make a long story short, I posted the blog, along with the vapid video, and potentially repelled would-be readers from the site by wasting their time and distracting them from the site's purpose.

It wasn't until I received an unsolicited tweet asking "What are you attempting to do in this video?" that it occurred to me that I'd inadequately failed to remember my audience when creating the site. My face and neck burning with embarrassment, I deleted the video and reminded myself that failure is often the key to growth.

Lessons learned:

1. Using technology for technology's sake doesn't do anyone any favors.

2. Asking for constructive feedback from friends and colleagues is important,
but the most meaningful feedback might come in the form of an unsolicited
message on Twitter.

3. Being transparent on the web may expose one to ridicule or embarrassment,
but blogging about it publicly somehow feels right.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Google Power Search Course

So far, I've only completed three sections of the Google Power Search course. In the process, I have learned some fast ways to filter my searches by color, date, media type, and Creative Commons attribution. I have also learned how to get Google to define an unfamiliar word for me, in English, and then translate it into the foreign language of my choice. For my GED588F2012 course, I was asked to comment on ways that I might integrate some of my new learning into my instruction with students. One of the things that I've already been able to share with my students is how to filter their search of images/video/text/music to find Creative Commons licensed works. Many of them had never heard of this! I have also shown them how to use Google images to define their searches, using the color filtering and the "more" function, and I've showed them how to use the Google "goggles" program to find images that look similar to something mysterious that they might want to identify (a confusing historical artifact for example). After bringing in some mystery objects for my students to identify, I managed to stump my class with one item. Using the Advanced Search function, I showed my students how they could photograph the mystery object, use the Google "googles" program, and then attempt to identify the object that way. While they were not successful in getting a definitive answer about the mystery object, they were impressed with the potential for this search function.