Friday, February 05, 2010

eTech Ohio Conference: Tuesday

I was excited to attend my first eTech Ohio Conference this week! The conference theme, P-20 Conversations: Shaping a Path for the 21st Century Student, was of particular interest to me.

"This year's theme P-20 Conversations: Shaping a Path for the 21st Century Student will address the need to integrate technology throughout a student's career. That is why eTech Ohio is collaborating with the Ohio Learning Network (OLN). Our desire for this P-20 Conference is to foster access to new technology, engage participants in understanding why these technologies are important and progress Ohio's education spectrum." - About eTech Ohio Conference

I was able to find sessions of interest with ease; in fact, it was difficult to find only one session per time slot that I wanted to attend. Luckily many of the presenters included handouts, web sites, and other resources to the Conference Planner and I have been able to peruse sessions at my leisure. Here's an overview of my day and sessions attended.

Moodle Educating Beyond the Classroom
Daniel Studebaker, National Trail Middle School

"Extend the time you can have with your students with Moodle. It's FREE software that allows teachers a variety of options to engage, assess, and stimulate the learning of students. Students can do a variety of activities and tasks that can be monitored, viewed, assessed, stored and even commented on all from any place you get Internet."

There has been discussion concerning Moodle as an alternative to traditional content management systems such as BlackBoard and Angel Learning (we use Angel at AU). It was interesting to see Moodle used in a middle school classroom and learn how compatible it is to systems many in the audience were already using. I appreciated the presenter did not gloss over the key role systems and technology people have preparing Moodle for district and classroom use.

Project F.I.L.M. - Fun Inspiring Learning through Movie Making
Kathleen Frazier, Dan Young, Lindsey Potok

"Project F.I.L.M. (Fun Inspiring Learning through Movie Making) engages elementary and middle school students in 21st Century Learning including: Creativity, Problem Solving, Communication, and Technology. This session includes: a project overview, assessment strategies, student movies, slides of the Academy Awards Ceremony and a brainstorming session to develop a academic movie themes."

This session highlighted movies created by 8th grade gifted students. The presenters took us through their lessons and movie-making process, beginning with storyboards, and shared finished products. Students created projects to fulfill specific curricular lesson needs; time, energy, and sheer fun, put into these films was apparent. We have used simple films and slide shows in the library for fun and information, this made me wonder if it would be interesting to have students more involved in future projects.

Virtual Worlds, Augmented Reality & Social Networks
ans Their Implications for Education
William F. Sams, Ohio University

"Virtual Worlds, Augmented Reality, Social Networks and new Revenue Models offer education unprecedented opportunities and challenges. This presentation will give you an overview of each of the topics and a perspective of how these technologies and trends will affect you over the next five years."

Connecting with students in virtual worlds was key to this session. Sams' provided an overview of virtual words, augmented reality, and a few social networks that students are using - and that educators are integrating into their classrooms. I was interested in the potential use of augmented reality and how it is not just a new reality, but a personal reality to students. There were many links to free digital and social tools included with the presentation. Click on the presentation title to view Sams' presentation on slide share.

Utilizing Skype in an Educational Background
Lori Dray, Galion City Schools
Julie Thogmartin, Galion City Schools

"SKYPE offers the opportunity to bring off-site experts in the field of education right into the classroom. Everyday, individuals use SKYPE to keep in contact with their friends and family, all across the world. Why not use it in an education environment?"

This session featured educational uses for Skype and a Skype demonstration. The presenters had volunteers in the session, in the conference center, and one surprised contact who had returned to her hotel room, providing video conferences for session attendees. Different educational uses highlighted included virtual field trips, having experienced "phone a friends" for lessons, and classroom author visits. As with many 2.0 products, Skype is free up to a point, but with an inexpensive web cam and microphone this could be a valuable classroom tool. Audience questions included important points regarding safety, professional use of the tool, and having permission to record sessions. I have to admit to wondering if this would be a viable tool for libraries focusing on distance education, or possibly reference interviews.

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