Monday, October 24, 2011

Nings and Student Survey

Our talk centered on two topics:
  • Using a NING with advisery (Matt) and
  • Student Survey Responses (Linda)
Matt gave a short overview of the Ning which he had started for his advisery about 2 years ago (at that time, Nings were free to educators, there now is a nominal cost). He had decided to do this because he felt it was more versatile that Blackboard, although he pointed out some newer communication tools may work better now. We definitely liked the FAQ’s and Events/News sections that he had incorporated. Another plus was the the option to password protect part of the Ning (for student writing on events like their Beach Clean-up) while making the main page readily available to parents.

As a group, we talked about the value of these electronic places as a space “to be,” especially for quiet students. Although Nings can be a means of increasing student willingness to share overall, Matt did point out that without having computers readily available in advisery, it was more difficult to encourage students to contribute to the Ning. We also talked briefly about how other Modern Classical Language classes, including Julia's summer China trip, have used Nings. They found several positives, as summarized by these researchers from the University of Hawaii:

“… that Ning has been a positive asset in the course, by providing a formal structure for required discussions, for helping students as they work on collaborative projects, and for the informal comments and messages that helped personalize student interactions.”

More information about Nings is available here, including several more examples of using Nings in education.

Linda briefly reviewed student survey data which had been collected as part of Banned Sites Awareness Day. More than 10% of our Winnetka students responded, indicating that roughly 2/3 felt that Social Media Sites (like Twitter, Facebook, etc.) should NOT be blocked at school. The other third were undecided OR felt that these sites should be blocked. Many mentioned too much distraction and others brought up bullying as a concern. Girls and older students tended to be more in favor of blocking the sites. We are still completing the analysis of the data.

The next Am Exchange meeting will be held, Tuesday, November 1st at 7:30am in the Library. Agenda topics will include How to create a Facebook Fan page (Judy Gressel presenting).

In attendance: Andy Horne, Erika Immel, Julia Kessel, Linda Straube and Matt Stuczynski. Both Raquelle Brennan and Judy Gressel were at other committee meetings.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

First Meeting for Fall 2011

We briefly review the areas of interest for the group, with these areas scoring highest on our survey:
  • iPad and various apps (new amazon tablet?)
  • Curriculum resources (new materials, needs and resources)
  • Productivity (Bookmarks, DropBox, Google Docs, Outlook, Live Binders)
  • Social media: Google+, FaceBook, Twitter
Group members offered to present about QR Codes and an advisery Ning. We will try to have an iPad "expert", perhaps Mary Ann Apple, meet with us in the future. In the meantime, this link to her LibGuide about iPads will be helpful.

We discussed changing the time and frequency of our meetings, but the group consensus was to keep things as scheduled (before school, every other Tuesday). Members preferred an open, less planned opportunity to collaborate informally with other faculty members, perhaps using NICE's "share-a-rama" as a model. One referred to Am Exchange as an "Idea Place".

In that spirit, we investigated a New Tool: Kwout demonstrated by Judy Gressel. Simply download the free tool and then (like our snip-it tool), capture part of a web page and embed it elsewhere. This will give students a more visual link to resources and we experimented with using it in Blackboard. The kwout image retains the link to the original web page and any links included in the capture - like this one:

More examples can be found on this recent ClassLinks page created by JudyG.

The next Am Exchange meeting will be held, Tuesday, October 18th at 7:30am in the Library. Agenda topics will include follow-up on Kwout and How to create a Facebook Fan page.

In attendance: Raquelle Brennan, Judy Gressel, Andy Horne, Julia Kessel, Linda Straube and Matt Stuczynski. Erika Immel was at Northfield and unable to attend.

post by Linda Straube