Wondering where to get started with technology in the classroom? Read this article by Lisa Nielsen

Lisa does a great job laying out 10 ways to get started with 21st century learning in the classroom. You know what it really is not that scary!
Click here to read the article by Lisa  Nielsen.techlearning

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Great List of Top Educational blogs!

In reading my morning educational technology blogs I came across a great resource for finding relevant educational blogs. This list covers many educational topics and also ranked these educational blogs. Take a look and see what you think. I now have five new blogs to peruse through each morning.

http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/2009/01/13/determining-the-top-education-blogs/

http://oedb.org/library/features/top-100-education-blogs

Good Classroom Resources Can Be Hard To Find

As summer starts to draw to a close,  many of us teachers begin to think of the upcoming school year. We all have visions and ideas that we would like to accomplish in our classrooms, so we begin to scour the internet for lesson plans and ideas. What we find is a vast amount of sites and information that often leave us frustrated and overwhelmed. There are so many different websites and resources on the web.  The problem becomes which sites truly have good lessons. Often times what we find just seems to miss the mark or is just not quite what we are looking for.

Over the course of the last 6 years I have been keeping a list of sites that I have used frequently and have found to be quite good. This is not “THE LIST”  by any means, and I am sure that there are other sites that are just as good if not better. But, I have gone back to all of these sites over and over again and found ideas and lessons that have been quite successful in my classroom.

This is where I would like everyone to weigh in! As you look through this list, if you know of a site that is full of great information please drop me an email or leave the link in the comment section of this blog.

Classroom Resources

Education Planet www.Educationplanet.com

The Gateway http://thegateway.org/

Federal Resources for Educational Excellence  www.ed.gov/free/

CEC Lesson Plans  http://www.col-ed.org/cur/

Mr Donn  http://www.mrdonn.org/

ABC TEACH http://abcteach.com/

Teacher Planet  http://www.teacherplanet.com

Best of History Websites  http://www.besthistorysites.net/LessonPlans.shtml

Education World  http://www.educationworld.com/

Teacher Domain http://www.teachersdomain.org/

We Are Teachers  http://www.weareteachers.com

Teachersfirst.com  http://www.teachersfirst.com/index.cfm

Integrated Technology Lesson Plans http://www.internet4classrooms.com/integ_tech_lessons.htm

Internet 4 Classrooms   http://www.internet4classrooms.com/lesson.htm

Think to Learn  https://think2learn.wikispaces.com

4 Teachers.org   http://www.4teachers.org/

Teacher Vision  http://www.teachervision.fen.com/

Other Good Video Websites

Having spent sometime looking at YouTube as a viable resource to use in the classroom, it must not be forgotten that there are a variety of other video websites out there that are just as useful.

In my district YouTube is a blocked website for obvious reasons. So often times I have used alternate websites to obtain videos for my classes. While these sites do not have the vast amount of videos to choose from as YouTube they often yield many good videos for classroom use.  Here is a partial list of the better websites that I have found to be quite useful in obtaining quality videos.

EDUTUBE located at http://edutube.org/

As they state on their website “EduTube is a new educational video search platform launched in April 2008. The main aim of EduTube is to organize the best educational video content on the Internet. It is not just another website for submitting videos – we recognize that a lot of great content is already out there, it just needs to be better organized.”

TEACHERTUBE located at http://www.teachertube.com/

This site again like Edutube is focused on education and has been growing in content over the last year. Like Edutube 90% of the videos are ok for use in the classroom.

SCHOOLTUBE located at http://www.schooltube.com/

This site is focused on student work. This is a site that has many different student produced videos on a wide range of topics. This is a great place for students to show off their work.

WATCHKNOW located at http://www.watchknow.org/about/

This site was started last year by a group of college professors in Educational Technology to develop a website that is trying to, “collecting all the best free educational videos made for children, and making them findable and watchable on one website.” This site has had tremendous growth over the past few months and will be one to watch in the future.

All of these site are most often not blocked by filtering systems and allow teachers and students to obtain valuable education material to fit their individual needs. I have had students use all of these websites and found them to be very useful. Students do not get sidetracked on videos that have no relevance to what they are looking for since all of these sites are strictly educational in their focus. Give them a try and see what you think. If you find one that I don’t have marked please email me the link so that I can add that to my ever growing list.

What types of students will be successful in an online learning environment?

When we look at what type of student that will be successful in an online environment, the first attribute would be self-motivation. Students must be self-motivated and able to manage their time to meet the requirements and time constraints of the course. Students must feel engaged and part of the course. This alone can pull students in and create motivation. Through good organization and communication often times students will perform who may not necessarily be a self motivators. Often times at-risk students perform well in online classes due to the ability to work at their own pace. A student’s successfulness in an online class has a lot to do with how the class is organized and structured for the individual student.

Things to consider in an online environment.

Teaching in an online environment contains many of the same issues found in the traditional classroom. Teachers must know their content area and be able to adjust curriculum to best meet the needs of their students. Over the past decade technology has grown tremendously and created new delivery methods that can greatly enhance learning for students. This growth in technology has created many new issues that teachers must consider before teaching in an online environment.

Teachers in must have a good working knowledge of their field of study. While this is a basic requirement of teaching any course, the online environment requires that teachers spend time developing good resources that can be accessed online. With the growth of electronic media the ease of putting information on the web has created many resources that must be screened before allowing students to use them. This requires the teacher to do more than a Google search and bookmark a couple of quick resources. They must investigate and research these sources of information to ensure that they are in fact worthwhile and credible. Along with researching and developing a good set of resources, teachers must be technically proficient in using technology to best meet the needs of their students.

As technology continues to grow, teachers must spend time researching new technologies that may enhance student learning. It is important for them to spend time learning about the various mediums such as: SCORMs, WIKI’s, Blogs, Forums, Chat, and Webquests to be able to use them effectively. Like traditional methodologies, online methodologies require time by teachers to study up on the new and latest developments in electronic media going beyond a word processor and PowerPoint to communicate with students.

The two most important issues to consider in teaching in an online environment are communication and organization. Just like traditional classrooms, lesson plans are critical. Getting the message across to students is the ultimate goal. With the limitations of communication with students, how you communicate in an online environment is critical. This requires teachers to be able to communicate effectively using technology and written word. What you say is as important as how it is organized and presented. Chunking information in small pieces and organization are key components of a good online course. Once a student is lost or confused, learning stops and may not start again for some time.

Online education requires teachers to go beyond just the traditional knowledge of their subjects, but to develop good resources, use the latest technologies, communicate and organize information to best meet the needs to their students and promote learning.

What are the best qualities of a successful online environment?

When we consider successful qualities of online education, we find that they are not all that different to the traditional classroom. Like all classroom activities they must be well designed and challenging, so they engage the learner. I believe that there are three critical areas in any successful online learning environment: clear communication, engaging content, and time.

In order for students to be successful in any learning environment, they must have timely feedback. This not only promotes learning but encourages students, giving them a sense of ownership in their learning.

Like the traditional classroom, concepts must be clear and organized and students must be engaged in their learning. In fact, the online environment requires more organization and clarity. Easy navigation and consistent organization are critical to assist students in remaining engaged and motivated. Once a student is lost or confused, the attitude of the learner changes and the learning stops. Thought provoking questions and links to consider or review in answering these questions can promote excellent learning opportunities, as well as providing students with various points of view on topics.

Students must be provided appropriate time to complete their work and work with other students. Students must be allowed to pace themselves to best meet their individual needs. Self-paced learning with good communication from the teacher to keep students focused is what can make online learning so successful. Communication with other students in an online environment must also be timely and easy. This will facilitate learning between all members and for the individual learner.

To create any successful learning environment I believe you must have clear and timely communication, engaging activities that are clear and organized, and time for the learner to complete activities that best suit their needs.