Joining Forces Using PLC’s

Personal Learning and Sharing Communities (PLCs) are becoming more and more popular.  PLCs are online communities that teachers can join to share information.  These networks are used to share information and resources.  These PLCs can be especially helpful in creating more of a shared community of teachersin a certain school or district.  Closed PLCs are invite only; this means that the person who creates the page must invite members to join.  If each district had a PLC the teachers within that district would

have an open place to share ideas, resources, lesson plans, and learning tools.  By bringing all of the teachers toone place, barriers are broken down and information can be shared more easily.  Older teachers can share their experience and expertise, while younger teachers(who are usually more tech savvy) can share tips and ideas on how to integrate technology into lessons.
PLCs are great because not only are they effective and easy, but they are also cheap.  School budgets are always an issue, but creating one of these networks costs next to nothing.  They can be created on blogging websites, Facebook, or even Twitter!

For more information on PLCs or PLNs feel free to visit http://www.cybraryman.com/pln.html

 

 

The Ups and Downs of Making a Radio Show

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 11.47.00 PMMaking a radio show was a lot more work than I expected.  Luckily I was put in a great group!  My group members Jen and Paula both helped make the project fun.  Our Radio Show “Hit the Lights” was all about the Cortland blackouts that occurred last month.  We wanted to make a show that our listeners could relate to; and since our listeners are our classmates, it made perfect sense to talk about cortland.

When we first met up to work on our Radio Show we decided to use the program garage band.  None of us were too familiar with the program, so some difficulties did occur.  We met our first obstacle when we attempted to use headphones with the program.  The sounds sounded fuzzy and only one person could speak and listen at a time.   Eventually we came to the conclusion that we would have better luck recording our voices on an iphone, or straight to garage band.  The real problem occurred much later, when we were almost done in fact.  Some how a fair amount of tracks went missing from our saved project and we had to rerecord them and find their old places and fit them back in.  This alone took several hours!

Technical difficulties weren’t the only difficulties we faced.  It takes some getting used to talking to pretty much no one.  At first we didn’t really know what to say, or what not to say sometimes in my case.  Also because my group members and I didn’t really know each other yet it was a little bit weird.  We decided to just dive right in and start recording though.  We each took turns speaking, and pretended that we were experienced radio show hosts.  It didn’t take too long for us to get the hang of it, and by the end I would say we almost knew what we were doing.  Listening to our first recording compared to our last is actually comical; listening to it again, our first take was so awkward we ended up rerecording it later on.  We ended up editing a lot of our work, and we had to move our tracks around a lot to create the right kind of flow.  Luckily Jen was in charge of the garage band editing, because even watching her trying to figure it out frustrated me!

However, technical difficulties aside, it really was interesting (and at times fun) making a radio show.  It definitely took some getting used to, and if I never hear my recorded voice again it will be too soon, but overall it was a valuable experience.  I learned a lot about the process of making a radio show, and definitely respect the profession a lot more than I used to.

How Would We Survive?

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I am a sophomore at SUNY Cortland.  Usually this is a wonderful thing, however something rather unfortunate did happen this week, due to electrical problems, the campus experienced a black out.  It first occurred on Sunday night and then again for the majority of Monday.  Because of the black outs my dorm was without lights, heating, plumbing, and wifi.  As I was sitting in the dark, with my phone’s battery quickly depleting, I found myself wondering how people ever survived without these things.

As I was doing my homework Monday, without wifi, everything seemed so much harder.  Things got especially hard when I was trying to do my spanish homework.  Usually if I don’t know how to say something I go onto my translator app or onto the Internet to google it; but my phone was dying and I had no wifi…  I was lost.  This then forced me to think of what people must have done before having these options and I came up with only two options: The first one I came up with was that people just must have taken better notes than I obviously did;  the second option that I came up was that maybe people used a Spanish to English dictionary, which unfortunately I do not own.

Later, after I had given up on my Spanish homework, I was trying to think of something I could do to pass the time and entertain myself.  My laptop and phone were both dead by this point so times were getting desperate.  When trying to think of a form of entertainment that didn’t include wifi my first thought was to read a book, but the lights were out, and since it’s the middle of winter it was already dark at 8pm.  Most of my friends had actually decided to go to bed around this time out of pure boredom; the friends I did stay up with were just as lost as me when trying to figure out something to do.  I think the rock bottom of my night was when I was using a flash light my RA gave me, to make shadow puppets.  Unfortunately they were some terrible shadow puppets, and not at all entertaining.

The point of my very long and boring story is this: my generation does not know how to exist without technology.  I sat for hours doing absolutely nothing because I did not know what else to do.  I am still wondering what people did before technology was the usual.  One of the most dramatic parts of my night was when my phone finally died, and I actually became panicked.  How would I entertain myself?  What if someone wanted to reach me?  What if I wanted to reach someone else?  How would I stay connected to the rest of the world?  It dawned on me later that all of this technology that we are so dependent on, are incredibly recent norms in our society.  When my parents went to school, students having computers was not common.  Mobile phones didn’t even exist yet, never mind smart phones.  If my mother wanted to translate her french homework she had to go find a dictionary and figure it out.  While technology and freed us from so many things, it has also made us dependent on it.  My generation does not know how to function without it.  This realization terrifies me, I do not like to be dependent on anyone or anything.  What would happen if something happened and our technology was no longer an option?  Would we know how to survive?

Technology: Giving Help Where Help is Needed

As much as I would like to be publishing a post about the evils of modern technology, I’m not.  ImageTechnology has opened many doors for people with special needs.  According to the article 5 Ways to Use Technology in the Special Education Classroom, most major operating systems offer options for people who are physically or mentally impaired.  “Both Microsoft and Apple, the creators of the two most prevalent operating systems, Windows 7 and OS X, offer a number of enhancements that enable users of different impairments to use the system…options that allow for using the computer without a monitor for the blind, adding visual prompts and eliminating sounds for the deaf, and alternate input devices for those with mobility deficiencies,” these alternate options are offered for no additional cost.  The fact that those options are offered free is incredible to me.  It proves that even big corporations consider more than just profit margins and bottom lines.

There are also new advancements made to improve and simplify the lives of those withImage disabilities.  The Article also mentions Braille displays, “Braille displays offer the ability read text that is sent to the machine by activating pins on a multi-cell display.”  Basic Braille displays can  can find Braille displays that can read text, offer text input and texting, and some can also help with computer use.  Braille displays are offered with cables, wireless by bluetooth, or on smartphones.  Even just fifty years ago being blind would severely limit a person’s lifestyle; today, because of this available technology, a person with vision impairment can more easily operate in out society.

Technology offers those with disabilities new options to facilitate an easier lifestyle.  People can more easily jump the hurdles that having a handicap places in front of them.  These new advancements break down barriers, and thank goodness they do!

Social Media: More Than Just a Distraction

Usually when older people think of teenagers using social media, there isn’t a very positive response.  While this response is totally understandable based on some people’s use of these sites, people should also take a closer look at the positives that social media offers.  In the article “How Students Benefit From Using Social Media,”(http://edudemic.com/2013/02/how-students-benefit-from-using-social-media/?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed) Joseph Baker goes through the many productive uses of social media networks.  Baker claims that “Students are experiencing the world through more than just books and assignments; they are learning and adapting to the world using a relatively new form of communication.”  The main benefits he focuses on are: connections, web engagement, knowledge, and social media marketing.

 

Connections: Students today can connect with virtually anyone, providing they have a social media page.  Physical distance no longer has any bearing on whether or not two people can be “friends,” and while I think in social situations that is completely creepy, in the professional and educational worlds this is a great asset.  

 

Web Engagements: Social media allows people to be in constant interaction with the outside world.  If this is properly applied in the class room, not only does it help engage students in their course work but it also “In a world where online engagement is important for businesses, these students are becoming experts at developing a sense of Internet presence. Not only do they know how to interact with others on the internet, they know how to use basic and even complex functions in order to do so”(http://edudemic.com/2013/02/how-students-benefit-from-using-social-media/?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed.)  By doing what they enjoy students are now developing skills that can potentially prepare them for future jobs.

 

Knowledge: People are almost always on the internet.  They are posting and reading and watching and sharing.  There is a continuous flow of information, and there is something for everyone.  The internet offers information on everything; there is so much, and people will view something just because someone else shared it.  As Baker says “Their ability to assess, analyze, retain and share information is skyrocketing and they often don’t even realize they’re developing these skills”(http://edudemic.com/2013/02/how-students-benefit-from-using-social-media/?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed.)

 

Social Media Marketing: The social media boom has created a whole new environment for business’s to advertise their products.  If a major business puts an ad in the newspaper, there is a very good chance that the older generations will see it; however the chances of the younger generations seeing it are much slimmer.  Yet if that same business posts their ad on Facebook, it is almost guaranteed and influx of views.  This new advertising strategy creates jobs for those who know how to take advantage of social media networks, “ Once you get a proper social media marketing strategy locked in, you’ll be grateful for the recent graduate you’ve hired to carry out the details”(http://edudemic.com/2013/02/how-students-benefit-from-using-social-media/?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed.) Image

TMI

How do more people not get overwhelmed by technology? It is always there telling you information, some of which you knew, but most of which you couldn’t of even dreamed up.  Twitter is both amazing and worrisome; people post not only professional information but personal information as well.  Why do people feel compelled to share their innermost feelings with strangers? Furthermore why is my generation so obsessed with updating, whoever will listen(or read) on the normal, and sometimes mundane activities.  While being connected to your peers is nice, and at times comforting, technology sometimes makes me feel like a stalker for knowing things a person did not specifically tell me.  I know things about people I’ve never met; how is that not strange?