Friday, February 25, 2011

How "All About Me" can define you on the Web

AR #3

The point of having an online identity for a teacher is to give a positive personal idea of who you are and what you hope to achieve as an educator.  The Internet can be used for a variety of reasons for a teacher, especially when a teacher creates a web page.  Most teachers create a webpage to allow for a more convenient way for parents and students to be informed about a class without having to remember everything expressed during “Open House”.  This is usually an event when teachers meet parents and students, give a bunch of information and start off the year.  A class web page that is maintained by an educator can be used for a variety of things.  Some examples are to convey a philosophy or mission statement, which is to tell what the general goal should be for the class, grade level or school.  This type of website can provide vital information with links to grade books, calendar of events, homework or assignments that are due, or just reminders.  It also cuts down on paper, as links can be set up with documents that can be printed, because let’s face it a pile of paper remains a growing pile, but if it’s organized and on a website it is easily accessible. 

There are other reasons to have online websites or even blogs as a teacher.  This can help with writing, communicating with other students, or coworkers, and even act as collaboration on projects for class.  With the wide range of online contacts that can be made a student can increase their resources to an almost immeasurable degree.  Some programs can be useful, as the Microsoft Word 2007 has a blog integration tool.  Those who have limited computer experience can gain quick online skills with programs they are comfortable with.  Other types of tools educators can use are “wikis”, which allow for a group authoring of a book or other related projects.  A great example is the Wikipedia.   Another tool that has been greatly advanced due to Mac’s iPod and other related system units, is the “podcast”.  This is described like an Internet based radio show.  As for communications it can be endlessly utilized from plain communications of opinions, to class lectures and professional development. (Shelly, 2010) Lastly a growing trend is the use of multimedia studio software.   These types of software programs use digital technology and have simplified the production of video clips.  This makes the laborious job of professionals easier for our next generation of students.  It enables them to practice and learn media skills without having to use expensive equipment.  Also it allows them to spend less time in the studio producing and more time creating.

I had the task of creating my own personality this week.  As this is a public blog, I was careful in every aspect from my philosophy to the interests and content of my blog.  It was actually a lot like when I first signed up for Facebook.  Certain information is left blank, but important educational elements are added to give the whole world an idea of my goal for an online presence.  It is now out for the public to see and add to which releases my control of the blog to the public.  The biggest concern I have is what ideas am I presenting for my coworkers, administrators, parents, students and even the general publics prospective of an educator.  Each person who public writes on the Web, gives a characteristic of all educators.  As a general rule I kept in mind what does this make me and other in my profession look like to a person that has never met me?  This leads to a big problem that the Internet has created for educators and that a permanent record of rumors or complaints that no matter how true they are, can always be found by anybody. 

The newest problem that can ruin a teacher’s reputation is the online comments made about them online.  There are also the online mistakes that teachers make.  In greater details to people and their online mistakes and how reputations can be ruined check out a site about our “Future Reputation”.  It is easy for a problem with a teacher can turn into instant online gossip.  Through testimonies from fellow union members I have heard of everything from parents blasting teacher on Facebook because of a disagreement, to misuse of Facebook relationships between teachers and parents or students, and even union impeachment of an elected position due to a Facebook post.  The common factor is a blog on the Internet is public, and if you don’t want someone to see it don’t right it.  It comes down to a rumor doesn’t have to be true, and especially on the Internet it becomes permanent, no matter if it’s true or false, it’s been told to the world.  This used to be true about what we said in the teacher’s lounge but now has moved to the digital world, where the “digital footprint” is permanent.
Shelly, Gunter, Gunter (2010) Teachers Discovering Computers Integrating Technology and Digital Media in the Classroom Sixth edition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Solove, Daniel J., (2007) The Future of Reputation. Retrieved from:

Friday, February 18, 2011

How Excel can help with a digital gradebook.

The main driving engine of a computer, in terms of software, is the operating system.  This tells the computer how to complete main functions that it needs to complete.  There are a few different operating systems.  These are Windows, Mac OS, UNIX, and Linux systems, which are added to by application software.  There are different categories of application software which include productivity, multimedia, academic, personal, and communication programs. (Shelly, 2010)

This leads into a project that most teachers need, unless a specified program has been made mandatory by the school district.  A grade book can be made with the use of the Microsoft program Excel.  This program, much like an accountant’s book, has boxes called “cells” that allow for all types of information to be placed on a page for organizing and use.  There are all types of options and applications that can be utilized with this program.  There are many types of formatting as most word processing programs have.  There are options to make charts, graphs and formulas to perform tasks for a more professional application. 

Our project was to take a grade book that was previously created and show off our technology skills.  Some of the basics were asked, change cell colors, create a row (cells are classified with rows and columns, with a letter/number notation), create a header for the new row, and add some data.  As this was a grade book, we used sample grades.  Now up to this point it was pretty standard and easy to navigate.  There were some moderate challenges, which for example was to create another row that had averages of overall grades.  One of the most challenging pieces was to sort by grades, and to have below grade leveled students in bold.  I never did find a way or formula that would automatically bold a name if they had fall below grade level.  A formula is what is used to create a desired outcome in a cell, based on some type of variables.  This could be adding a number of cells that have numbers for totaling, or creating an average for a set of grade.  This was our task, which is under the popular functions of the top “ribbon” or toolbar of Excel.  The hardest element by far was how to make the names appear for all four marking periods.  Each new page is called a “sheet”, and with 4 sheets the change on one sheet had to appear on each of the other 3 sheets.  I did finally figure out that a “link”, had to be created that would affect changes on all sheets in the “workbook”.  The term workbook refers to the entire project that includes all sheets.  The Excel program has been extended where many database functions can be used now, which extends what can be accomplished with in this program.

As a teacher this has many different luxuries.  It allows for multiple assignments to be quickly averaged, with pinpoint accuracy.  It allows for me to see who is not doing well, by sorting by final average.  Furthermore it allowed me to see if homework was a positive or negative factor on students’ grade averages.  This allows me to enter any type of assignment and have it easily accessible for our own monitoring and makes it easy to show parents how their child is doing.  Also with darkening out other names you can show rankings, and compare to averages of assignments and overall final averages.   As a whole, Excel is very easy to use as a grade book.  But some companies have produced software that far surpasses the capabilities of Excel.  This would be great if you were to start a foundation for using technology for a grade book.  But other academic software has made it more work to set up Excel, than it creates a convenience for teachers.  Most “grade book” software imports most of the needed information and teachers just need to add assignments and the grades.  Excel is a great all around program, but for teachers there is better software being used to create digital grade books in our classrooms.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Is filtering at schools ethical?

Reading Reflection #3

It is our job as teachers to protect students while they are in our care.  It seems that many times the filters through the school district block materials that are not harmful or unsafe for children.  It is however dependent to what is being surfed of the Internet.  I remember that some time ago I took a workshop where an adult sight had taken advantage of the “.gov” part of the Whitehouse sight, and used a “.com” domain label to trick students to view their sight.  This type of malicious use of the Web is the reason why we need filters for schools.  So does this limit what we can assign as a teacher or have child learn about?  My answer would be no, as with a classroom with more than one student doesn’t exist.  Only filters can act as a parent to help reduce the amount of objectionable material that exists on the endless Internet, a parent next to their child is a live filter, we as teachers need the electronic filters to act as the parent and protect the student.  We can’t shield our children from everything that they will eventually be exposed to, but as parents we should be given the choice.  We should feel that school is a safe environment.  Filtering material from the Internet is one way to ensure their safety.

As an article from “USA Today” stated we have a legal obligation to filter according to the “Children's Internet Protection Act”.  This doesn’t mean that it makes sense in some cases, but because the certain key words that a filtering program is based on is to exclude sites.  It becomes frustrating to many teachers and students when using the Internet at schools.  However as I stated earlier we must adjust and use home Internet more frequently so that parents can more carefully monitor Internet content. 

There is a multiple amount of computer security threats when using the Internet.  The issues students are exposure to would include objectionable material and predators using instant messaging, chat rooms or blogs to find children and baiting them into conversation, then online relationships or more.  This also continues to safeguard children from “Cyber-bullying” The other types of security risks that filtering safeguards against are computer viruses which “is a program designed to affect your computer negatively without your knowledge or permission” (Shelly, 2010).  Another common type of malicious program would include a “Trojan horse” or a “worm” both are similar to a “computer virus” in which it causes damage to computers, and networks.

This brings to mind how do we guard our computers, since this is one of the biggest investments that we may make in our households?  There are software programs that protect your computer that can be purchased that offer protection from “computer viruses”, “malware”, “firewalls” both software and hardware versions, and include e-mail safeguards from scams such as “phishing”, and “spam” schemes. 

These devastating types of software lead into one last point which is ethic and etiquette.  In terms of ethics most schools have some type of “Internet Policy” or “Acceptable Use Policies” that are a guide to how computer usage is allowable as a privilege to those using a network.  The current world is full of computers which these ethics guide all users from how to abide by copyright and fair use guidelines, to etiquette when using a cell phone.  It is so common to have a cell connected to your ear, more and more the “no cell phone” signs are constantly being posted.  As this technology increases so does the wireless network.  We are in a path of having a completely wireless world, where cell phone providers make it easy to take and use new technology everywhere and anywhere.  In a very short time the emerging technologies will allow handheld tablets and devices, like the “Smartphone”, to be our primary connection to the Internet.  This will create a completely wireless classroom. Books and assessments will be on a tablet.  It will be where students from home or in their seats can complete the same work and the teacher can use the instant assessments that technology brings to give immediate feedback to improve the learning of a diverse classroom.  Then parents can check what their child got on their spelling test from their Smartphone or home device instantly after the test has been given. 

Shelly, Gunter, Gunter (2010) Teachers Discovering Computers Integrating Technology and Digital Media in the Classroom Sixth edition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
USA Today,  Associated Press (2005) Schools install Internet filters to receive federal money. Retrieved from:

Friday, February 4, 2011

Why is the digital world important to all of us?

Reading Reflection #2
The digital world is a huge part of our lives as teachers and just regular people.  One of the keys to our digital life is the Internet it is used for communicating thorugh e-mail, researching with search engines, conducting business daily, learning for students, and so much more.  The Internet has an interesting history as outlined from the “Internet Society All About the Internet: History of the Internet” tells in a well in depth how a simple project to collaborate communications between people turned into a worldwide phenomenon.  As a teacher I must understand how this works and look at how my students have change from traditional pencil and paper to a digital student as described by a short presentation of “The Networked Student” by Dr. Wendy Drexler. 

In this presentation, Dr. Drexler shows many digital avenues that the teacher and student use to learn.  In addition to why we need to know how to use the Web to be successful in today’s learning world.  Several points are made, how textbooks are obsolete, how going to class daily is replaced by online coursework, and how a social network enhances a student’s learn by connecting to others around the world to gain access to knowledge. 

The first part tells about “The Networked Student”, which as it turns out parallels how I am learning in my current college course.  I collaborate with others using a blog  and have established a “personal learning network” to enhance my learning experience.  For a simplified version of a blog see Blogs in Plain English.  The opportunities of online learning range from the students in the class to subscribing to an RSS, which allows anyone to learn from experts from around the world.  It seems that the RSS is a key factor in moving us to the Web 3.0, which is our future in surfing and communicating on the Internet.  The most interesting question, then answered, by the presentation is “Why is a teacher needed?”  According to Dr. Drexler several aspects are facilitated by a teacher, which brings me to why I need to know how my future classroom will most likely be run.  The teacher is a leader that “Teaches us how to build contacts, directs questions as the arise, teaches how to identify if the information is valid like and encyclopedia or just an opinion, and finally how to use the Web to its fullest potential.”  This is to create a student who is ready for the 21st century world and can be a positive impact on the world.
Drexler, W. (2008, November 26) The Networked Student [Video file]. Retrieved from   

Networking has taken on a new meaning in the digital 21st century.  A network helps to connect you to others and to information from all over the globe.   The Internet seems to be the General or main network, it has Lieutenants that run a regional networks, which in turn has local networks and so forth.  This goes on until your home network is reached.  This would be how you connect your computers, printers, and other multimedia devices to the Internet.  The complexity of the digital world includes the networks how they communicate through a modem and how routers steer information through a digital signal.  The explosion of the Internet has made all of these devices and networks a need instead of a want in order to be connected in all aspects of our lives.  This is the reason why as a teacher I need to know how to use the available resources, that are just second nature to the students who come through my class room door.