Concept Map: Social Networking for Beginners

Concept Map: Social Networking for Beginners

This is getting easier — and much more fun. Yes! This week in EdTech 502, I created a concept map. I chose the topic of “Social Networking for Beginners” because I want to use it for my upcoming class of ACCESS students. I enjoyed learning some new skills and software for this assignment. I created a page banner at the top (from a picture my husband took of a ceramic plate in Morocco), a gradient background, and hot links on an image. The image itself was created in Fireworks, which is a new software for me and I enjoy it already. I loved discovering Kuler, which makes me really excited about color, especially the ability to match an imported image from Flickr. Cool! I also created a favicon, which is a first for me. While I could spend hours fiddling with many aspects of this page, I’m pleased with my work.

Here’s a mini view of it:

Copyright Scavenger Hunt

Well, lists may be the end of me!

This week in EdTech 502, I created a new website addressing copyright issues. I chose to make it kind of an overview to copyright, fair use, creative commons, and practical application of these ideas in the classroom. These issues are very legal and complex, and I learned a great deal in my research. I also realized how little I know.

In addition to tackling a large topic and organizing it into a presentable format, I created two websites to portray all of this information (a test and the answer key) and a downloadable worksheet. I used lists, with icons I created myself in Adobe Fireworks (aren’t they cute?). Lists seem so easy, and in theory they should be, but with all the <ul> tags I had 26 errors to correct in my XHTML code. I also mistakenly created a new CSS rather used the same one for both web pages, and it was harder that it should have been to remove the one and get my CSS page to validate.

After several agonizing hours, here is my completed project:

Don’t even THINK about criticizing it…

Digital Inequality

Here is our finished VoiceThread presentation:

The collaboration required for this week’s EdTech 501 assignment on digital inequality pushed us all to a new level. We were a pseudo-Task Force, assigned to help our state’s superintendent make decisions on how to use $50M to reduce statewide digital inequality.

I learned a great deal through online research about the differences between digital divide (the have’s and the have-not’s of computer access) and digital inequality (the level to which a user can implement and utilize available tools). It was a complex issue, one I initially knew very little about, and I have realized that support and resources must help provide education as well as access.

Our assignment was to create a VoiceThread, an online slide sharing program that enables various users to insert and comment. This presentation took a great deal of distance collaboration among our five team members. We shared Google docs that allowed each of use to edit and note our research.

I am proud of our finished product and feel it represents a three-fold success: 1) acquired knowledge of a complex issue; 2) exposure to a new technology; and 3) strengthened collaborative skills for team building.

Three AECT standards on this project were also applied. Standard 3.2 (Diffusion of Innovations) was met through strategic planning for the purpose of forming a consensus and presenting information. Standard 3.4 (Policies and Regulations) was met through learning the rules of society and how technology is (or isn’t) effectively utilized. Standard 4.2 (Resource Management) was met by our Task Force planning strategies to use state resources.

Good work, team!

Internet 101

I had an opportunity this week that very few people ever get, especially if you live in America. For an hour and a half, for two separate sessions, I taught 40 teenagers Internet basics. What’s so unique about this? Well, many of them have never used a computer or the Internet. At all. Ever. Now that’s cool. I’m not even a teacher by profession, but my setup with these classes would make any middle school teacher jealous.

Let me tell you why.

Partly because of their culture, and partly because they are the recipients of a unique opportunity to learn English, these students are ultra-respectful and gracious. Each one greeted me as they came in the room with, “Good afternoon, ma’am.” Each one looked me in the eye as they left and said, “Good evening, ma’am.” They started their class with singing. I’m not talking barely moving their lips, self-conscious singing. These students were singing to their heart’s content. Every one of them, boy and girl. They sang “Oh Susanna”, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”, and a moving song about overcoming and being strong. I was moved.

These students are part of the Nepal ACCESS program that provides them with the opportunity to learn English and other parts of American culture. For two years, these students meet together after their normal school (which in Nepal they attend 6 days a week for long hours). They even meet on Saturday, which is normally the only day off students have. They come from underprivileged, difficult backgrounds, but you would never know it. Their eyes shine, full of light, and they WANT to be there. At the beginning of the program in February they spoke little to no English. Now they are flourishing.

So, I volunteered to teach them roughly once a month about technology. This is what I love and what I’m passionate about. Fortunately, this is a topic that teenagers anywhere are interested in, so I didn’t have to pull teeth to get their attention. In fact, you could have heard a pin drop in that room. All eyes were on me, and I had their complete attention. No texting or talking in the background. No murmurings or whisperings. Nothing but a ready and willing audience.

Yes, these are teenagers.

So, I taught them! I am still waiting for a projector that will allow me to use my iPad for instruction, so I did the logical next-best choice: I packed up my entire 27-inch iMac into our small car, drove it through insane traffic and bumpy roads, carried it up 3 flights of stairs in the monsoon rain, and put it on the table.

It definitely piqued their interest.

How could I talk about technology without letting them see, hear, and experience it? I was in my element, teaching about something I really enjoy, and we had a lot of fun. I showed them a movie trailer I made using iMovie and footage I took of them during their Teej festival. They loved it. These are kids who probably don’t even own a single photo of themselves. They oohed and awed over the screen as they watched themselves sing and dance and recite poetry. I gave them a quiz on Internet basics and we went over all the answers. My assumptions were correct in that they don’t know very much at all.

I really feel, which is why I am doing this, that teaching someone about how to access available tools is empowering. For them, the Internet provides knowledge about the world. It levels the playing field a little, giving someone in Nepal access to the same information that anyone else in the world has. It’s about opportunity, providing them with skills that will open doors and change lives. It’s also about confidence, as their skills and knowledge increase, they become more confident in their ability to help others.

I’m not sure what I’ll talk about next time. They want to know how to use Facebook, Skype, and email. I’ll teach them about Google Docs, because it is such a great resource, especially for someone who doesn’t have a computer and software of their own. I’ll help them use various search engines to access information, talk about netiquette and staying safe online. We’ll take and edit photos and videos.

In the end, though, I think they will be the ones teaching me.

Introduction to Web Accessibility

I love to learn something about which I had no clue initially: web accessibility is one of these topics for me. I had no idea!

This week’s assignment in EdTech 502 was to research various issues relating to web accessibility and then design a page full of hot links to that information. I learned all sorts of things I had no idea about, like W3C guidelines and Section 508 standards that web designers should adhere to. I didn’t realize the number of assistive devices that help people with disabilities access the Internet, for example, or the variety of disabilities that require special assistance when browsing the Web.

I came away with a new responsibility as a future web designer and EdTech professional to ensure that accessibility features are enabled in everything I do. Browsers have many built-in accessibility tools, if designers will just make the extra effort to build them into their pages. The Internet is such a wonderful tool, and everyone should be able to fully utilize it.

I also relearned that writing code is not for the faint of heart. I worked very hard on this page and it still looks like my 9-year-old son designed it.  Nonetheless, I’m proud of it, and I’m really hoping this gets easier.

Yet another benefit of technology

Last night we experienced an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal. It measured 6.9 at the epicenter about 150 miles away in Sikkam, India. While we were all ‘shaken up’ a bit, especially our four children, we suffered no bodily or property damage. I was reminded again of the positive and effective uses of technology in such scenarios. Of course, technology in the classroom is the main focus of the EdTech program, but technology in our daily lives is pretty great too. Here are a few examples:

  • Our earthquake alarm sounded about 15 seconds before we could feel the earth shake. Since our family had practiced drills recently, we knew to take cover.
  • Within minutes after the earthquake stopped, we were in radio communication with the embassy as accountability measures began and information relayed
  • Our Internet (which can barely survive a heavy monsoon rain) stayed functioning. Within minutes we notified our parents via email that we were OK. We updated our Facebook status. Ten minutes later, on the iPad we checked this amazing earthquake site for details on the quake so we could prepare for aftershocks (which thankfully didn’t reach us).
  • Since phones (land and mobile) were overloaded, we Skyped our neighbors to check on their status.
  • Today, the day after, we checked the newspaper headlines to learn any additional information and gain a better perspective of what happened.

Technology truly is a blessing that reaches into every aspect of our lives. I realize things would have been less functional in a more major disaster, but it was a reminder to me how many tools we have if we are able to utilize them.

At the end of the day, however, it’s having my husband and children safely sleeping next to me, that is the greatest blessing of all…

Plagiarism Video

This week in EdTech 501, I researched the complexities of plagiarism in a digital world. While some of the information was review, and involved common sense reasoning, much of it was new, especially self-plagiarism and patchwriting.

I then created this video using fun text-to-speech software called Xtranormal. This is a short introduction to some key elements of plagiarism: cheating, non-attribution, and patchwriting.

I mainly used three sources, as outlined below, in my research.

  • The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA, 2010) proved quite insightful. From it I read that “researchers do not claim the words  and ideas of another as their own; they give credit where credit is due” and “each time you paraphrase another author…you need to credit the source in the text” (pg. 15) The “key element of this principle is that authors do not present the work of another as if it were their own work” and can extend to ideas as well (pg. 16) Self plagiarism happens when you “present your own previously published work as new scholarship (pg. 16). “The general view is that the core of the new document must constitute an original contribution to knowledge. (pg. 16)” This idea of self-plagiarism makes sense, but I have never thought of it in this way.
  • Boise State University’s Student Code of Conduct Section 18 on Academic Dishonesty is also helpful. It states, “The term ‘plagiarism’ at its most basic level means to steal someone else’s words, composition, research, and/or ideas. Plagiarism is both cheating and theft. Given the seriousness of this offense, students have a responsibility to understand its meaning and implications for the academic community. Plagiarism can be committed in any type of assignment.” Some examples listed are: quoting or paraphrasing another’s work (including ideas or research) without citation, and using the services of anyone who sells term papers or similar academic materials. Violations may result in sanctions, ranging from a warning to expulsion from the university. Plagiarism is serious.
  • Our course syllabus outlines three types of plagiarism: cheating, non-attribution, and patchwriting [I found similar material at Purdue OWL: Contextualizing Plagiarism] Cheating is defined as “borrowing, purchasing, or obtaining work composed by someone else and submitting it under one’s own name.” Non-attribution is more complicated. Purdue OWL explains that it is “writing one’s own paper but including passages copied exactly from the work of another…without providing (a) footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical notes that cite the source and (b) quotation marks or block indentation to indicate precisely what has been copied from the source.” It also states that this is often a result of a student’s inexperience (me) and not an intention to deceive. Patchwriting is a new term for me. This occurs, according to Purdue OWL, when
    “writing passages…are not copied exactly, but have been borrowed from another source.” Basically, the student uses large passages of copied text that is linked with other passages of copied text. This type of writing is often easy to spot because writing styles of copied passages vary. It occurs mainly when a student is unfamiliar with the material. I found it interesting that this tool is sometimes used in research, but should not be submitted in “final-draft academic writing.” (Purdue OWL)

This assignment is a perfect example of how BSU’s EdTech program works and why I already love it. I am given a topic to research (plagiarism), and then I get to present it using a new technology (Xtranormal). This type of approach has a double benefit and makes learning more applicable and fun. It could be better implemented by teachers and students of all ages.

Netiquette page

This week’s challenge in EDTECH 502: Internet for Educators was multi-fold. First, we were to research basic Netiquette principles with our specific students in mind. This is timely for me, since I plan to teach some of these things to my ACCESS students next week.

After completing my research, I designed and wrote the XHTML and CSS code for my website. This was my first use of a callout box (the box that floats right on calls attention to key points) and other typographical specifics. It was rather grueling, and everything is very new to me. I suppose it’s a bit like learning a new language. Hopefully some of the repetitive tasks will get easier and more routine over time.

This is a picture of my page as I first published it. I’m sure I will adjust and adapt as my skills improve, so I wanted to capture it as is. Here’s a link to my current Netiquette page.

If it looks too easy, I dare you to try it…

The evolution of a web page

I’ve used the Internet now for years, but I’m new to website design. There’s so much to learn and I’m already feeling overwhelmed!  Fortunately, this semester I am taking EDTECH 502: The Internet for Educators. Already, it’s proved quite helpful. The textbooks alone weigh more than me, and will be near-obsolete by next year with titles like Dreamweaver CS5.5 and HTML, XTHML & CSS. My favorite text is The Non-Designer’s Web Book, which is amazingly helpful for being published light years ago in 2006. I guess design principles don’t change too drastically over time.

Our first assignment was to create a plain HXTML page in Dreamweaver. Later we added CSS. I’m excited to see what this web page will become, and how my skills will grow with it. For now, I’m really proud of it.

Elements of Educational Technology

EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY: The study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.

(10) Appropriate

The Association for Educational Communication and Technology (AECT)  adds the word appropriate in their 2008 definition of educational technology. This is a key element, especially in a global environment, and in the paragraphs below I will explore why appropriate technology is so critical in the overall definition and practice of educational technology.

At first, I took its meaning to refer to appropriateness of content, avoiding things such as offending language and images. However, as the AECT’s definition article points out, “the term appropriate is meant to apply to both processes and resources, denoting suitability for and compatibility with their intended purposes.”

Further exploration of the meaning, as also noted in the article, demonstrates that appropriate technologies are those that are:
  1. connected with the local users and cultures
  2. sustainable within the local economic circumstances

The AECT’s article explains, “Sustainability is particularly critical in settings like developing countries, to ensure that the solution uses resources carefully, minimizes damage to the environment, and will be available to future generations.”

This statement really resonated with me because of my current experiences. I live in Kathmandu, Nepal, which by all standards is a developing country. There is tremendous poverty and need here.

Recently, I have been given the opportunity teach an ongoing course about technology to Nepali teenagers. These youth, who are aged 14-16 and half male, half female, come from very underprivileged backgrounds. Through a partnership of the U.S. Embassy and the Nepal English Language Teachers Association (NELTA), these students learn English and gain insight and exposure into American culture. They are the recipients of the English Access Microscholarship Program, which provides for them this tremendous opportunity they would not otherwise have. Through donations of it’s members, NELTA now has a computer lab with five computers for the 40 students who meet here in Kathmandu. These computers are older PC models, yet perfectly appropriate, and will give these students access to the Internet. I have volunteered to come in every few weeks and teach them anything I can about technology, how it fits into American culture, and how it can help them in their lives.

This is a wonderful opportunity for me, especially in light of my current studies in the EDTECH program. I have given a lot of thought as to what I will teach them and what will give them the best education possible.

In short, I need to choose both appropriate processes and resources.

Where do I start? How do I begin to expose them to what’s out there? How can I help them see, feel, and experience technology for themselves, in a way that they can go forward and create opportunity?

I will also travel to three remote areas of Nepal, where students participate in the same program. In such places, the need is even greater, as these students have extremely limited computer access and very little exposure to technology at all. As the AECT’s definition article suggests, I need to use tools and practices that are the “simplest and most benign solution to a problem”. I am still trying to sort out what that entails for these children.

Sure, I can bring in my iPad (with all its bangs and whistles) and show some great projections onto the wall. This is important, since I want them to see, feel, and experience the joy and energy of technology. But if, using my iPad and other devices, I can open their eyes to what’s out there, show them tools that will empower them with skills and confidence, and help them access a wealth of resources online, then I have really made a difference. On the flip side, if I can’t teach them skills that will be applicable for them, in their particular circumstances, then my best attempts will not be deemed appropriate.

For example, let’s look at Google docs. What a fabulous tool this is for these students! They will most likely never own a computer, especially one with Microsoft Office and other creative software. Through Google docs, however, they can create beautiful documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. They can search through numerous templates to create a resume or report. They can share with their classmates, and have a safe and secure means of storing their schoolwork. They can do this all from any Internet cafe, anywhere. If they later need to use Microsoft Office in the workplace, they will be familiar with its interface, because of its similarity to Google docs. All in all, Google docs is a practical, appropriate, tool to teach them.

As the AECT’s definition article points out, appropriateness also has an ethical dimension.  One aspect of this emphasizes that since we are a multicultural community, we need to provide “opportunities for culturally and intellectually diverse points of view.”  On the surface, this sounds ideal. But what if, through our exposing these youth to other countries and cultures, we also encourage them to speak up in ways their families or governments aren’t ready for? What are the cultural ramifications of their becoming more technologically literate? These are big questions with complex answers.

Finally, as stated in the AECT’s definition article, educational technologists have a responsibility to be informed, to stay up-to-date on current trends and tools, and to use that knowledge in ways to find the best, most appropriate, solutions for others.

The challenges are real, but I feel it is an exciting time to be involved in technology. I look forward to empowering others through educational technology, and I hope it will help them open new doors of opportunity in their lives.


Association for Educational Communications and Technology. (1977). The definition of educational technology. Washington, DC: AECT.

Commission on Instructional Technology. (1970). To improve learning: A report to the President and the Congress of the United States. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Ely, D. P. (1963). The changing role of the audio-visual process: A definition and glossary of related terms. Audiovisual Communication Review, 11(1), Supplement 6.

Januszewski, A., & Molenda, M. (2008). Chapter 1: Definition. In Educational technology: A definition with commentary (pp. 1 – 14). NY: Lawrence Erlbaum, Inc.

Reiser, R. A. (2001). A history of instructional design and technology: Part I: A history of instructional media. Educational Technology Research and Development, 49(1), 53-64. doi: 10.1007/BF02504506

Seels, B. & Richey, R. (1994). Instructional technology: The definition and domains of the field. Washington DC: Association for Educational Communications and Technology.
Nepal English Language Teachers Association                                                  English Access Microscholarship Program