WebQuest: Online Research Sleuth

It feels good to be done!

At least for now…

My final assignment from EdTech 502 was to create a WebQuest. I was vaguely familiar with what a WebQuest is, but since I’m not a teacher I have never created one. The challenge is to help students reach a higher level of thinking. It is more than a scavenger hunt activity of clicking here or there for answers. They are required to think, ask and answer questions, and complete specific tasks. Once I decided on a topic the ideas began to flow.

Looking at my pages, I realize how much I have learned in just a few months. They are complete with CSS templates, original graphics, navigation menus and icons, accessibility features, links, images, and the works. I am still a beginner in every respect, but I am able to produce a professional product I never could have done before.

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Virtual Field Trip: Sydney

I realized in this week’s EdTech 502 assignment that I know more than I thought I did. Web design is finally starting to come together! What a great feeling. While I won’t be designing for Apple or Adobe anytime soon, I have come far. Just a few weeks ago I knew next to nothing about XHTML or CSS. Looking at the source code for a web page was like reading Greek. Now, while I may not understand it all, I understand most of it. I can apply it. I can start from scratch or from a template and create a professional product. This is a major improvement.

This assignment is to create a virtual field trip experience. It needs to be more than just information about a place or a set of links. It needs to be a place that students likely won’t be able to visit in person. The website needs to have audio, images, and video embedded throughout, with educational activities and questions for the student. Sydney was an easy choice for me since we gathered 21,000 photos during our two years living there. Sadly, not many students will actually get there, so it was the perfect fit. Interestingly, all of the photos and video are from my personal collection.

This was the first time I used a single CSS style sheet linked to each page. I tweaked an online CSS template to create a set of linked pages. The entire project took a huge amount of time this week, but in the end I am pleased. I feel much more confident using Dreamweaver to write and edit code, insert links and images, and adjust colors and formatting. I created a banner in Fireworks. I embedded YouTube videos and an .mp3 file. I linked to internal and external documents. I managed and organized complicated information both on the server and online at Diigo. In short, I used every skill we have used so far and it all came together. Finally!

Have a look:

Introduction to Google Docs

For EdTech 502 this week, I designed a collaborative activity based on the jigsaw classroom approach by Elliot Aronson. I incorporated a table into my page, which was a little frustrating to learn, even using CSS table layout. I opted to stay simple until my skills improve. On the up side, I am getting more confident in repeated tasks each week for basic website design. The things I thought would never get easier…are getting easier.

Let’s hope this trend continues.

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: http://voicethread.com/share/2220807/

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!

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.

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.

CSS page

My first web page designed using CSS

For EDTECH 502 this week I encoded my first page using CSS style sheets. While I am just tapping into the power of this remarkable tool, I understand what a difference it has made in website design. Thank you, CSS, for giving us all a much more aesthetically pleasing experience when browsing the Internet. You are amazing and I hope to get to know you better.