Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Avatars and Authenticity

The article brings up an excellent point that until reading it, had not crossed my mind. If a deceased person has an avatar made for them or a character made for them in a virtual world, whose responsibility is it to preserve the image and respect for that character? The Kurt Cobain issue is very legit, because as the inventor (debatable) of grunge music in the early 90s, his die-hard fans and relatives would not want to see him playing Bon Jovi. As a Beatles fan, I could not imagine someone using their avatars to create porn or drug videos.

The article asks a very important question: Who will speak for the deceased people once they become avatars? We already have legal documents stating who can make life/death decisions for a person when they are in vegetative state. Should we tack onto that legal document the previous question of who speaks for you once death occurs?

This is one of the reasons why I do not approve of avatars being created for others. Creating an avatar for yourself is fine and can be fun. However, once you begin creating one for others, many questions become raised. Taking it even a step further, who takes over the Kurt Cobain avatar after its original creator dies? Will there be a contract created that lays out how specific avatars should speak, behave, and act? What will be the punishment for breaking these types of laws/rules? Technology is great, but often the technology is years ahead of the laws of the land.

Google Earth and Pixton Comics

I used Google Earth in my classroom the other day, and I really enjoyed the application. I took a trip this past summer with some of my colleagues and on the trip I took a 5 day hike through the Andes all the way to Macchu Picchu. It was an amazing experience. I wanted to convey this with my students, however my pictures could not show the distance traveled. I used Google Earth to show my students the length of the route. They really enjoyed it! Many of my students returned to school the next day and told me that they had downloaded the program!

I also used Pixton comics in my classroom in order to teach the phrase "How are you?" in Spanish. It went very well, and even though the comic was sort of a side-note, it clearly showed my students how to use the phrase well.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Before I Even Begin Second Life....

Before I even begin engaging and teleporting in Second Life, I must say how wary and how suspicious I am of this program and even the concept of this program. Personally, I have many troubles juggling my first life. Teaching in only my second year, I still have TONS of things to iron out and figure out. Also, as a young male in his 20s, I have THOUSANDS of questions to still answer.

When I first started Twitter, I did not enjoy it, however, I now see the merit in having a place to speak to people from all over the world. I am able, every Tuesday, to chat with teachers all around the world on edchat. Second life is supposed to be the same concept I guess, except in my opinion it takes the concept to extremes. What I do not understand is, if Twitter can essentially do almost the same things as Second Life, why must I have an avatar and a second life, when I could just tweet it?

I guess the idea of having some type of internet version of myself just freaks me out. This is probably due to my generation, my upbringing, etc., however it is extremely hard to turn off my blinders this time.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Google Lit Trip

The classroom activity I decided to look further in depth into is the Google Lit Trip. This activity is actually a really cool way for students to further interact with the material that they are reading. The students are able to use Google Earth and they are able to map out where the book takes them as they read.

One of the most interesting ones that I would personally like to do, and possibly do with my kids, is the Google Lit Trip with the Krakauer's Into The Wild. I read this book over the summer while I was hiking through the Andes, and the scenary in the book helped me to better appreciate the scenary around me at the time. Krakauer's writing is very user-friendly, and the story is also very easy to follow, and adding in the actual scenary through Google Earth would give our students such a better perspective on how high certain cliffs are, how long certain rivers are, and how desolate certain areas are.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tweetin' It Up: So Far....

Twitter has not yet been worked into my daily routine, or even my daily thought process. It is still a secondary thought in my head. This is not because I place a lack of importance on the twitter experience, but simply because starting school up again has strained my time quite a bit, and I have had to drop habits rather than gain them.

Besides that point, I think that I need to start using Twitter more. A couple of my classmates mentioned that they found good information on Twitter. One girl specifically mentioned that she found an on-line gradebook which she could use. That would be very useful to me.

Obama's Education Speech

Obama's speech today was very good. I think it showed that we as teachers should have a No Excuse policy in our classroom. While the speech was very inspiring to me as an educator, talking with my students, the speech did not seem to have the same effect. This startled me at first and nearly offended me, however at a closer glance, I realized a lot about my students.

I teach all freshman this year, and that puts my students between the ages of 13-16 years old. Originally being a senior teacher, I came into this year with the past experience of having my students be more mature and understand certain things. However, as I deal more and more with my freshman students, I come up against more and more walls that are present in their learning. However, one thing that I realized about my students is that while I struggle to understand their ignorance and blatant disrespect toward listening to Obama, I also need to look back at my own behavior during this time.

In middle school and in my early years of high school, needless to say, I did not give a crap! I probably had never watched the news until September 11th, and I barely even knew what newspapers were. However, it was through my teachers that I learned to harness these hobbies and these skills.

Obama did an excellent job addressing the students of the United States and what their responsibilies are as students, however, the teachers must also be held accountable. Teachers are role models inside and outside of the classroom, and their hobbies and habits rub off on children more easily than is believed. Our students must of course be responsible for themselves and for their country, however teachers must also be responsible as well.

2nd Day of Class

Our second day of class did not go much differently for me. Shelley is very inspiring with his words, and while I whole-heartedly believe him that this may be the future of education, I am having a hard time wrapping my head around it. As Hugo said in class, "I never thought at the age of 23 I would say that I am too old for something, but.....". I have to say that I semi-agree with him for now.

While this is all very overwhelming for me, I will be able to keep up better now because I have finally gotten my computer fixed (thank you paycheck). So that is a huge plus. Other than that, I just hope to stay afloat in this class, and not manage to drown.

15 Must Follow Comedic Acts

On twitter, you can follow celebrities, as well as everyday people. One cool thing about twitter, is that you are able to follow some of the funniest people on earth including Rainn Wilson from The Office (one of my favorite shows), Jim Gaffigan (who does some of the funniest stand-up I have seen in years), and Kevin Nealon (one of the geniouses behind the writings of SNL). While I am not a celebrity fanatic, it is interesting to find out what some of the world's funniest people find funny.

5 New Twitter Games

This article talked about 5 new twitter games that help make the interface more fun and interesting. It also gives you something to besides tweet.
1) @Trivia - answer simple trivia questions
2) Snods - cops and robbers in virtual reality
3) Tweefight - go head to head against an annoying follower
4) 140 Mafia - try to take over the Twitter mafia
5) Spymaster - become a spy and join one of the best Twitter games ever

5 Steps For Better Tweeting

This article listed 5 steps to being a better Tweeter

Step 1: Find people you already know: this way they will be receptive and trust what you have to say right off the bat

Step 2: Find like-minded users: use Twitter search in order to find people who are interested in the types of things that you are

Step 3: Find people in the area: using advanced options or other applications, you can find and tweet people that live nearby, which makes the experience more applicable to your everyday experience

Step 4: Get a desktop client: Helps you to organize your friends and colleagues and get the most out of Twitter's userface '

Step 5: Learn the ropes: experiment with twitter and also read some How-To literature on the jargon and procedures on Twitter

1st Day of Class

How would I characterize our first day in the Paperless classroom class? Scary and overwhelming. I am 23 years old. Before this class, I considered myself reasonably text savvy. I am on facebook, I used to have a myspace, I use email, and I know how to search on Google. However, after 2 hours with Shelley, I emerged from class feeling like a 90 year old grandma who has never even heard of a computer. I felt like a giant weight had been set upon my shoulders, and I must say that I am scared of this class. Even with the few email accounts and bill payments accounts that I have, I still have to write up reminder notes to pay them and check them. With all of the social media sites that we are going to be signing up for, I feel as if I will fall behind rather easily.

However, as I have always said in my life, and I will say now, it cannot kill ya to try anything once. So here it goes. Bring it on social media!