Monday, April 30, 2012

The Web Searching Process--Keywords, Day #5--Searching and Evaluating like a Pro

It is important to know how the searching process works, but it is almost important to know how to search. When I taught research skills, my students not only struggled with understanding how search results were organized, but how to search. And, oftentimes, I could not get them to evaluate like a pro because they did not know where to even begin to search or what keywords to use when searching. Hence, searching like a pro is a multi-step process:

  1. Understanding how search results are organized
  2. Knowing where to search
  3. Comprehending keywords
  4. Understanding searching techniques (ex: Boolean)
Without an understanding of ALL of these, it is difficult for students to become effective Web searchers. 

 So, where do you begin to search? Well, Google does yield the highest number of users. However, knowing when to search involves knowing where to search AND when. Though the internet is full of resources, it does not contain all of them. In fact, it only contains about 15% of the world's information. Therefore, it is important to teach students where to find information. Search engines like Google are a great starting place, but they do not provide all of the information. Sometimes, students will need to interview, collaborate with others in an online format, look through encyclopedias, or visit locations. It depends on what the topic is. 

So, to begin, all students should answer the following questions in order to decide where to search, what to search, and when to search. Below is a sample needs assessment for search strategies. This provides a good discussion on how to search, where to search, what to search, and when to search.

So, how do you change those search questions into searching keywords? It helps to think like an advertiser. In fact, Google offers a good help sheet for Google Adwords clients. Though this sheet is not for students conducting research, it provides an interesting look into how searching works. It assists advertisers in linking their products to specific keywords. Hence, the philosophy can be adapted to fit students.

Another good activity for students to use when changing search questions into search keywords is the University of Maryland's Libraries tutorial. It provides examples and opportunities for students to practice creating search keywords.

The MLA provides generous resources for building effective keywords as well.

There is even a Searching for Dummies tutorial on building keywords.

Commonsense Media has several lessons and activities for students (grades 6-8) learning to search. These can all be adapted to fit a variety of grade levels.

eHow has a quality series on searching and keywords for students in elementary grades. These are activities that can also be performed at home with parents.

And, the University of Wisconsin provides a very useful Webpage with keywords and their associated lessons, activities, and evaluations.

The key is building search questions to figure out the who, what, where, when, why, and how of searching. From your search questions, you can develop keywords to guide you to quality resources. Searching and evaluating like a pro starts with developing quality search keywords.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Asking the right questions in a Web search, Day #4--Searching and Evaluating like a Pro

In order to effectively evaluate a Website, you need to be able to ask the right questions to get you to the Website. If you can ask the right questions, your job as an evaluator is much simpler and easier. However, this seems to be the most difficult area for our students and for most of us.

To begin, many students, teachers, and general users do not understand how results are sorted in search results. In fact, some do not even know about search engines, so let's clarify:

  • Think of the Internet as a massive library. 
  • Think of a browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome...) as a particular branch of the library.
  • Think of a search engine (Google, Bing...) as the librarian.
This comparison always helped my students: When you go to a library, you have the option of which branch you will go to just as you have the option of which browser you use to access the Internet. Each browser has certain highlights and problems just as each library branch many have slightly different books. However, at the end of the day, a library branch is a library branch and a browser is a browser. They all do the same thing--just with different perks. When you go to a library, you may have several librarians you can choose to speak to. Likewise, when you access the Internet via a browser, you have different search engines you can search. If you go to head librarian, he/she may have more knowledge to direct you to the right place just as if you go to the most common search engine, you may have better results. 

Google is just one of many places to begin a search. However, statistics show that most people begin their searches using Google. 

It is important to know how search engines (remember to think of them as librarians) filter and gather their results. Google uses a philosophy called PigeonRank to sort their results. Because of this system, you can actually edit they way your search results appear. Early search engines used to rank results by keywords. So, if you searched for a keyword, it would look for how often that keyword appeared in a site and that page would appear first. Well, marketers discovered this and started manipulating pages to get some keywords to appear more and, thereby, change search results. Studies show that links listed at the top of search results rankings get the most hits and therefore, the most viewers and potential for money. Now, Google and other search engines say they use more than 200 different factors to rank pages. In 2009, Google announced that it would use the Web history of its users to help rank results. Companies may also pay for their pages to be featured in different search results. Hence, companies also judge customer buying through search results. Search results have become a very powerful and lucrative industry--just look at Google. So, why should we be blind to searching?

So, remember that your own searching manipulates future search results. And, those search results manipulate your searching. It's a continuous cycle that all users need to fully understand. 

Right now about 15% of the world's information is online. If searching is an obstacle now, what will it be like in the future when the information doubles, triples? 

So, what can you do to search like a pro? First, you need to know what to search with. And, second, you need to know how to filter your results. 

What do you need to search with?
  • This is a great strategy to use with developing search words. 
  • Here is a great search process tutorial from 21st Century Information Fluency. 
  • These are both great starting places for helping your students formulate the right searching questions. 

How can you manipulate your search results? 
  • Google provides you with this tool
  • There are other, more kid-friendly search engines that schools can use (just remember that students will most likely not use those on their own time, so you want to still incorporate the search engine giants)
  • Microsoft provides this tutorial/example on searching with Bing
It's time to teach ourselves and our students how to search. It is now a required skill! 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Walk-through Evaluation Guide, Day #3--Searching and Evaluating like a Pro

We all evaluate sources to some degree. The question is--how well do we evaluate them and do we have the right criteria. When you go to purchase a car, you may have a list of needs and wants that varies from the next person. However, when you are evaluated at your job, your boss uses the same set of criteria to evaluate you as the next person because he/she is looking for a common trait among all employees. Likewise, Web evaluation needs a standard set of criteria because we evaluate for common traits: intention of site, reliability of site, and the relevance of the site.

Since there is a common set of criteria for evaluating a Website, teaching how to evaluate should be systematic. Eventually, it should be a process that is ingrained in all Web users.

Let's walk through the steps. One of my favorite searching/evaluation errors I like to show my students is the myth of the .org site and the "first link click" epidemic.

To begin, do a search for Martin Luther King on Google. Your results will look similar to this:

Notice that it is the fourth link from the top. And, it says "true." It even says that it is a "valuable resource for students and teachers alike." Can you guess which one catches your students' attention (other than Wikipedia)?

Most of my students entered my class with the belief that .org sites were reliable--infallible almost. The next step is to click on the link. When you do, you will find a page that looks like this:

Let's go through the evaluation steps. There are two processes I like to use. One is the toecap method.

The other is from the University of Michigan: Intention of site, reliability of site, relevance of site. The questions it asks are as follows:

So, let's go through the steps:

First we need to figure out who the author is in order to figure out if it's trustworthy, reliable, relevant, and what its intention is. At the bottom of the page, I see a link that says "brought to you by Stormfront." I will assume that is the author so I click on that link. Here is the page that comes up:

What is the objective of the site? Well, we can tell that Stormfront is part of the White Pride World Wide. It says that "there are thousands of organizations promoting the interests, values, and heritage of non-Whites. We promote ours." So, we can assume that their objective is to promote white supremacy.

Is the information effective? Well, if the mission is to promote white supremacy and show supposed traits of Martin Luther King, then it is effective.

Is the information current? We cans see from recent posts that it is very current.

Is the information accurate? This is the problem. It notes that it promotes the heritage of whites. Well, Martin Luther King was non-white. And, he argued for equal rights. So, we can use our background knowledge to assume this organization and Martin Luther King probably did not agree. Therefore, their information's accuracy is suspect.

What is the purpose? To begin, think of your research purpose. If your purpose is to find about Martin Luther King and his background, do this site do so in an unbiased way? No. It says that it has an agenda. And, we only want unbiased information. Therefore, its purpose does not match our purpose and this Website fails the evaluation test.

Though this Website is a clear example of one that is biased and not an effective source on Martin Luther King, others are not as simple. Therefore, it is important to ingrain this method in your students. Everyday, they face thousands of bits of information and they need to be able to evaluate and think critically.

And even though we want students to be using search engines that they will use in the real world, instaGrok is a great tool that isn't about finding the answer. Instead, it's about learning and comprehending the topic. In that sense, it is different than the search engines students will use on their own because its goal is not to search and find. Rather, it is to explore and develop connections between concepts. It allows students to use search engines for more than just searching and it hopes to teach students that it isn't about just "clicking on the first link" (read Instagrok: A (Re)search Engine for Education). Perhaps, we should be instilling in our students a love for learning rather than a search and find mentality?

Stay tuned for more on searching and evaluating in the 21st century. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What makes an effective source?, Day #2--Searching and Evaluating like a Pro

How do you define what is an effective Web source or even just a general source? When we go out to eat, we have a set criteria for what makes a good restaurant. When we buy a home, we have a buyer's checklist. When we purchase a car, we have a criteria chart. Before we make most important decisions, we have a set of criteria. The key is being able to think critically. In fact, it is one of the four Cs of 21st Century Readiness as part of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I will practice what I teach--critical thinking of a Website. Here are four reliable Web sources to use when teaching Website reliability.

Kathy Schrock has an excellent guide for educators on the Discovery Education Network. She provides critical teacher evaluation information for elementary, middle, and secondary school. This is a great resource to turn to.

21st Century Information Fluency (21cif) provides multiple tools and links for Web evaluation.

The University of Michigan provides research guides for the public's use.

This "grammar" quiz acts as a great needs assessment for beginning to teach about Web reliability.

Stay tuned for a Website evaluation walk-through tomorrow. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

21st Information Fluency Essential Questions, Day #1--Searching and Evaluating like a pro

If you think about it, most of our successes come from our ability to find the right answer--not whether or not we know it correctly to begin with. This mere fact is becoming more of a reality each day. As a technology coordinator for a small, rural school district, I don't always know every answer to every problem. So, what do I do to find the answer: I search for it and evaluate my answer choices to see which is the most effective. When I took my six Google certification exams, answers to several of the questions had changed. What did I do? I opened up the training modules (located in the Google training center) and searched for the correct answer. The abilities to search, locate sources, evaluate sources, and broaden your network are 21st century skills that define a person's success. Think about how many times you have had to search for something recently? We note that students do not memorize dates like they used to and they can't pull off quick math equations like they used to. These are all true accusations. However, are those skills as necessary? Now, students can bypass those steps and move onto even greater learning. What used to take months to memorize historical dates, students can do in minutes. With the extra time available, how can we challenge them to use that material? Our job skill sets are changing, so shouldn't learning and teaching change as well?

Ken Kay of The Partnership for 21st Century Skills attempts to combine the "traditional three Rs of education with the four Cs [of 21st century skills]: communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity." A merging of these skills within core content will "ensure that all students are able to compete in the global economy."

Being able to find, manage, and evaluate information (critical thinking) through a collaborative network is the most important skill set we can teach our students.

To begin, it is important to understand what each skill is. Thinkfinity (part of the Verizon foundation) gives some helpful lessons.

  • Critical Thinking
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
Critical Thinking is a good starting place. If you are not able to think critically, it is difficult to collaborate and communicate within a larger network. When I taught high school English, I began my searching and evaluation units with a searching questionnaire or needs assessment to see what my students knew about searching. Though most understood the value of searching (that's how they attempted to find most of their answers), many did not know how to search effectively. As a result, the information they supplied was incorrect often. And, they were frustrated over their inability to get the correct information. 

After the initial survey, I implemented the 21st Century Information Fluency Model in my classroom. Before we began any project that involved research, we used this model to search and evaluate information. Eventually, it became ingrained and it was no longer just a model we used for research--it was a skill. Though teaching effective searching and evaluation techniques add extra time to an already packed curriculum, they are essential. If we teach our students how to think critically, the curriculum becomes less important; critical thinking is a skill that allows students to succeed and a variety of contexts. 

The Fluency model has many free and at-cost tutorials. My favorite, however, are the wizard tools (search, evaluation, and citation). Each wizard tool walks students through the correct critical thinking process. With the searching model, students are provided with questions to guide them through their search. They can also play games to evaluate their searching skills. A Google a Day also gives students the opportunity to test their searching knowledge. 

The Evaluation model walks students through the appropriate evaluation criteria for selecting sources. 

We search everyday, but how skilled of searchers are we? Try the searching model or a Google a Day and test your knowledge. Do you prepare your students for the skill or content? 

Monday, April 23, 2012

10 days to being a professional web evaluator and web searcher

Building a positive digital footprint is an important objective that every teachers should teacher. Likewise, effective search and web evaluation strategies are equally important. In order to understand how a digital reputation is created, we must comprehend how to search and evaluate what is on the Web and implement those strategies. Perhaps, then, this series should have come before the digital footprint. Now, though, the importance of online citizenship is clearly understood.

Over the next ten days, I will showcase some tools and strategies to becoming a professional searcher and evaluator.

A great starting place is the 21st Century Information Fluency Project (21CIF). This site began as a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education in 2001 and, in 2009, became a business that offers free tools for classroom and (paid) workshops. Rather than reinvent the wheel, try out these tools that are sound and free. The site provides great search and evaluation wizards that will walk your students through the appropriate questioning techniques. It also has a citation wizard. Check it out now. I'll give more details on it tomorrow.

In the meantime, begin testing your knowledge of searching and evaluation techniques. When I was in high school over 10 years ago, we were told that .org sites were good and .com sites were bad. Sadly, when I taught HS English, I still had students coming to me with the same, outdated rules. The .org/.com philosophy of years past needs to be revised. Instead, it must be replaced by critical thinking and analyzing of the author, domain, dates, links to and links from. It is not as simple as .com vs. .org anymore. A great way to show this to your students is through the following Glog I created for my staff:

Stay tuned for 10 days to becoming a professional evaluator and searcher. It's time to start thinking critically in a whole new light. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

10 Days of building a positive digital footprint in review

We teach students how to be good citizens, but do we teach students how to be productive and influential digital citizens? With such a large digital space, many avoid teaching digital citizenship and literacy out of fear of where to begin. Unfortunately, that is a huge disservice to our students. By failing to teaching our students appropriate behavior and the power of their digital reputation, we hinder their careers. Whether we agree with it or not, students are building digital legacies--positive and negative. We have the power to impact and guide those legacies. So, let's start teaching students how to create positive digital footprints.

Over the past 10 days, I mentioned several methods to engage your students in positive digital discourse.

To begin, you need to be able to build a positive digital footprint for yourself. Then, you can guide your students through the process.

  • Begin by "Googling" yourself. All of the results that pop up are your digital legacy. 
  • Ask yourself these questions (from David Jakes): 
    • Do you believe that having an online presence is critical for you? For your students?  If so, how do you develop that within the context of your professional life, and for students, within the context of your school's climate and culture.
    • Within your school, have you had the conversations necessary to understand digital reputation and presence with all members of your school community?
    • Should students publish online?  Should schools help students create a positive digital record?  What if students don't want to publish their creations?
    • What spaces have you created that are safe for students to explore their creative and critical interests?  When does that space become permeable?
    • Should contributions be local first, and global second?  Can you encourage publishing if you are not living that yourself?
    • Has your school district developed the necessary policy to support student publishing? 
    • Have you protected your digital identity by reserving your domain name, and accounts on Facebook and Twitter?  What about your school?
  • Use sites like Personas and Spezify to organize your digital footprints. 
  • Become a classroom advocate for your students
  • Set up Google Alerts so you know when your digital footprint changes
  • And, blog, blog, blog...just as we tell students to write, write, write and read, read, read.
  • Build ePortfolios for yourself and for your students--it is a great reflection piece
  • Create Waves of change by using your digital presence to do good
  • Build your personal learning network and USE it! 
  • Make social networking a positive resource and not the scary monster it is often depicted as
  • Become part of a global community 
  • Take that first step forward into your digital legacy and use the Internet to do good--provide a structured atmosphere to start. Use a tiered-approach and guide your students to becoming active digital citizens.
Many school mission statements mention creating "active learners" and "responsible citizens." And, it's time we act on those mission statements. No longer are we just citizens of a city, a state, a country, but we are part of a global community that exists in the confines of a computer. We teach our students how to cross a street because we know they will have to do it alone someday. Likewise, we know our students will have to search and have to access the Internet someday, so why not teach them how? Digital citizenship is of the very most importance. 

Stay tuned for 10 days to effective searching techniques and Web evaluation. Like the teaching of digital citizenship and literacy, being an effective "searcher" and "evaluator" are important skills to have in a global community. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Taking the first step forward to a positive digital path, Day #10--building positive digital footprints

 Students are taught that their digital footprints are a breadcrumb trail for bullies and sexual predators and not "potential tools for learning, finding like-minded peers, and building reputations as thoughtful contributors to meaningful digital conversations," says Bill Ferriter in his April 2011 Digitally Speaking column, "Positive Digital Footprints."

As I listen to my aunt tell her precocious nine-year old daughter (who enjoys making movies about a variety of topics with the help of her little sister and iMovie) about the dangers of the Internet, I think about what she is NOT telling her. Rather than instilling a philosophy of fear, she should continue to support a nine-year old, who is already asking for her parents to reserve a domain name for her movie site, in a way that encourages her creative potential and instructs her on how to continue doing good right now. As a nine-year old, her digital footprint is full of Websites containing movies she has developed about topics that are significant to her. As a nine-year old, she has more significant work to her name than many adults. And, that needs to be encouraged.

We all agree that the digital world is a powerful place, but it is not necessarily an entirely negative place. It is the world we make it become. The Youtube sensation of "challenges" like the "am I pretty" videos encourage the predators to pounce. However, teens like Katy Butler show that the digital world is more than one full of predators, it is one full of people like her who devote it to creating positive change. Before even entering college, Katy caries a digital footprint that has enormous amounts of power. This is the kind of digital footprint educators need to support, encourage, and facilitate.

Blogging, social networks, online communities, professional learning networks, wikis, and online forums are all powerful media. That power does need to be managed, but isn't that what we teach students in all other platforms: responsibility? Unfortunately, we often avoid teaching citizenship on the Web and, instead, cast it off as a dangerous place where we should not enter alone. This is the world where we live. Do we want to set students free into a world where they have not received proper education?

Let's take the first step into making a positive digital footprint by looking at the following resources:

  • William Ferriter's article, Positive Digital Footprints, suggests taking a tiered approach to Internet safety  by giving all students basic instruction and targeting those most at-risk. He also recommends providing structured opportunities for students to do positive work online. Those who understand that you must act safe online and that the Internet is a place to do good, usually do not engage in the risky behaviors that fill the headlines. 
  • However, students must be aware that their footprints can do damage. Once they are aware, however, the focus must be on creating opportunities for them to do good. Lessons for teaching the power of the Internet include: Would you hire you and Your reputation can hurt your job search
  • CommonSense Media has a great curriculum for teaching digital citizenship and digital literacy for grades 6-8 available here. This can be adapted, however, to fit other grades.
  • Digital Citizenship Adventures offers an outline for bringing a digital citizenship curriculum into the curriculum along with citizenship guidelines. 
  • Career Builder provides a site on building a digital footprint you can be proud of. This is a great resource for high school and college students--even teachers! 
  • My Media Footprint, a site created by Terra Kirsch, offers links to tools like Voki that can create an active, positive digital footprint. 
  • The AASL blog has a good write-up on digital footprints and a listing of resources for classroom teachers. 
  • ISTE provides a page navigating the digital world. On the page, they list a variety of projects to engage students in that will promote positive digital footprints. This is a great place to begin! 
  • Edmodo even has an article from an eighth grade student and his work in creating positive digital footprints. 

Stay tuned for a wrap-up of the 10 days to building a positive digital footprint tomorrow. It starts with recognizing that the digital world has the potential for positive growth. Now, it needs to be taught and encouraged. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Global communities broaden the digital footprint, Day #9--Building positive digital footprints

The nature of being online means that we are interconnected, within arm's reach to people across the globe. With that comes great responsibility and immense power. Now, we must train our students how to be responsible and how to use that power for a greater good. Rather than avoiding it, pretending online communities do not exist, wee must serve as guides for students as they navigate the Web.

Online communities vary in their content and nature, but one thing is consistent: they do not stop at the walls of the classroom. When I was in middle school in the mid-late 1990s, the craze was AOL's Chat rooms. I remember my dad bringing home his laptop (seemingly from the space age) from work, connecting it to our phone line, "dialing" in, browsing the few search categories on AOL and chatting as a family in several chat rooms. Looking back, I can only laugh at our beginnings. However, my dad did something right: he guided us through the process. Rather than getting lost in the "big" chat rooms of the 1990s, I had a guide. Teachers must do the same, especially today when chat rooms do not exist in the same context. Now, students are connected to people across the globe at the touch of their fingers. They have authorship powers that never existed before and their networks are larger than ever. And, now, learning is moving form full face-to-face, to blended, to completely online.

Like social networks, online communities are your networks. However, online communities represent a body of people connected to various issues/topics/goals. Students writing letters to China may be an online community, but it may not be a social network. They represent the projects students should engage in.

Some great online communities to engage in include:

LinkedIn is a great starting place for joining professional online communities. ePals, Moodle, and other learning management systems are effective tools for engaging students in online communities. Now is the time to start guiding students through global communities in order to broaden their footsteps, and make them responsible students devoted to positive growth. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Social networking the dark horse, Day #8--Positive Digital Footprints

In Missouri and in many other states, social networking is the evil step sister, the topic few want to battle. Instead, most try to completely block it rather than to find ways to effectively integrate it. Unfortunately, social networking leaves digital footprints and must, therefore, be dealt with. When it is integrated in an appropriate manner, it can leave a positive digital legacy.

Maintaining blogs, portfolios, and professional learning networks are all part of building a positive digital footprint, but social networking, perhaps, leaves the largest mark. According to a MSNBC article, 85% of users across the globe, who are connected online, send and receive emails; 62% do so through social media. In places like Russia, Indonesia, South Africa, and Argentina, 75-80% use social networking. In the United States, 60% of online users are on social networking sites. Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks cannot be ignored. Leslie Horn of PC Mag, notes that "A new report from comScore revealed that over the last year, Facebook’s audience doubled to just north of 57 million users. Twitter saw its mobile audience grow 75 percent to 13.4 million people. LinkedIn has the smallest mobile audience of the three, but it still experienced a boom in the past 12 months, expanding by 69 percent to 5.4 million users. comsScore said in August 2011, 72.2 million Americans accessed social sites and blogs from their mobile phones, a 37 percent increase from a year ago." And, the most popular activity to engage in is reading posts and others.

What you place on your social network is now subject to review by your boss, the police, news media, your parents, and many, many more. There is no need to go into the wealth of cases where employees have been fired over what they put on their Facebook page or blunders made on Twitter that put people under criticism. However, there is a common thread in such incidents: inappropriate use. What we do not read about are the positive uses of social media. It should be the goal of educators to make these positive uses the most noted and the most common. It should not be the goal of educators to turn a cold shoulder to social networking. What we can do is educate students and others on positive uses and take a stand to make social networking reach the goals it set out to: connect the globe through common bonds.

Below are some great examples of using social networking for a positive means:

Here are some educator-friendly social networking sites to use with your class (model effective uses in a safe environment:

The focus recently has been on the negative uses of social media. Yes, they do exist. But, do we complain about the negative uses or strive to make it better? I argue for the latter. Social networking is defining generations of people and that is out of our control. However, we can control how they are defined and the course that social media takes. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Build your Personal Learning Network, Day #7--positive digital footprints

To create a positive digital legacy, you must write, develop portfolios, spur waves of change, and build personal learning networks (PLN). With a personal learning network, you can control your audience and target specific groups. Think of it as your marketing campaign. If you want to reach the Columbia, Missouri market, you will look at various forms of advertising that will best market your business to the Columbia area. Likewise, when marketing your digital legacy, you want to find Web tools that will allow you to showcase yourself in a positive light and network with others who share your goals and who will encourage you to grow.

There is an abundance of tools out there for building your PLN; however, that does not mean that you have to use all of them. Just as you do not exhaust every marketing resource available, you only need to use the tools that best suit you. In my case, I use Blogger, Facebook, Diigo, LinkedIn, Google Reader, Twitter, and Google Docs. Blogger allows me to showcase my work in a convenient platform while Facebook lets me learn from others and develop my network. Diigo is a place to store what I have learned and Google Reader is a site to read the words of others in my field. And, Google Docs is a platform for developing my work that I showcase in my blog and on my Facebook page.

However, your personal learning network may vary drastically. Therefore, it is essential that you ask yourself the following questions when developing a PLN (remember: first build your own PLN as an educator and then, call upon your students to develop theirs):

  • What are your professional/learning goals?
  • What tools are your favorites?
  • How do you want to leverage yourself?
  • What do you have to leverage yourself?
  • Who do you want to connect with?
  • What do you currently use to connect with others?
  • How might you broaden that?
  • How will you manage your network? 
What is a PLN:
  • Social (it's your own social network)
  • Manageable (it contains groups you belong to and can contribute to EASILY)
  • Motivational (it is full of other similar professionals who can motivate you)
Student PLNs:
  • From Edna Sackson's Wordpress page on "10 ways to help students develop a PLN":
    • 1. Arrange the tables in groups.
      Provide opportunities for students to engage with their in-class PLN.   Encourage conversation.  Encourage cooperation. Encourage collaboration. Set tasks that allow students to construct meaning together with their PLN.
      2. Let them talk.
      Don’t do all the talking. Don’t be the filter.  Allow them to respond directly to each other. Even if it’s a frontal lesson where you need to explain new material, allow 5 minutes here and there for them to talk it through amongst themselves. Use thinking routines like ‘Think, pair, share’.
      3. Be part of their PLN.
      Model what good learning looks like and sounds like.  Share your own learning. Learn with and from your students. Don’t pretend to know all the answers. Discover and uncover new things together.  Don’t overplan. Explore and investigate with your students.
      4. Promote an out-of-class PLN.
      Let them work with students from other classesProvide cross level opportunities. Arrange electives that allow collaboration across grade levels. Organize learning experiences that involve other teachers.
      5. Flatten classroom walls.
      Create global connections. Collaborate with kids in other countries.  Set up a Voicethread so kids all over the world can respond. Find classes learning about the same issues to debate with on Skype.
      6. Learn from experts.
      Invite speakers from your local community. Bring in people from anywhere in the world via Skype. Encourage students to pursue their interests by finding people they can learn from outside of  school and online.
      7. Encourage conversation with family.
      Invite parents to share in the learning, in person, or by commenting on class blogs and wikis.  Set tasks that involve parents, grandparents and siblings. Send student questions and wonderings that haven’t been addressed in class, home for discussion.
      8. Learn through blogging.
      Start a class blog.  Write for an authentic audience. Ask teachers from other schools and in other countries to get their students to comment. Get your kids to read and comment on other class blogs. Develop a conversation. Develop a relationship.
      8Focus on communication.
      Whoever’s in your PLN, you need to know how to communicate. Listening is just as important as speaking. Teach them that it isn’t always about you. Model consideration and mutual respect within a PLN.
      9. Define the student’s PLN.
      Increase awareness that learning doesn’t belong only at school. Ask them to think about who they learn from and with. Get them to create a mind-map showing their personal learning network.  Keep adding to it as the network grows.

Resources before beginning your PLN journey:

These are merely the beginning. If you don't use a professional/personal learning network now, it's time to start! As the lone "techie" at my school, my PLN has allowed me to still stay connected with others in my field despite them not having a physical presence. In fact, this blog is a reflection of resources from my network. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Creating waves of change, Day #6--building positive digital footprints

In addition to blogging and building a resume with your online presence, it is also important to push forward change--to be part of something greater--as you develop your digital footprints. Unlike the generations before, you have the power to touch a much larger audience with your digital legacy. So, why not use that audience to your advantage? In this sense, a digital footprint is very unique--anyone can view it. Before, the audience you reached on a day-to-day basis was rather consistent and, perhaps, limited. Now, however, the audience can change drastically.

With online collaboration projects, teachers and students can create a positive mark in their online presence. For instance, if students collaborate with a school in Ethiopia to improve women's rights, that project becomes permanent on the student's record or resume. Just as the more positive, influential roles and jobs you undertake can improve your resume, so too can the collaborative projects students engage in.

Some great collaborative projects include:

All projects allow students to not only participate and create change in a global community, but add a positive legacy to their names. Check out the first link for a listing of many more projects to engage your class in. All projects will help build a positive digital legacy for you and your students and improve digital citizenship. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Google is the new resume, App #5--building positive digital footprints with ePortfolios

To get your resume, an employer only needs to search your name on Google. Your online presence will be readily available. Therefore, why not build up your online presence? You don't want your resume to be empty just as you don't want your online presence to be empty. You want your resume to be filled with quality, meaningful work that showcases your best assets just as you want your online presence to be filled with positive examples of your work. And, with ePortfolios becoming commonplace, there is even more incentive to jump on the bandwagon.

First of all, ePortfolios are not just for students; all educators should build a portfolio as a means of reflection and professional growth. Before beginning portfolios with students, educators should try building their own.

Read below for some great resources getting started with portfolios in the classroom:

From Dr. Hellen Barrett:

Where can you build ePortfolios:

What are some guidelines for building ePortfolios:
Where are some sources for building ePortfolios:
Portfolios are just one way to create a positive online presence. Continue to view your work online as our resume and you will begin to make positive footprints. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Building positive digital legacies with student blogs, App #4

Yes, blogs. Now that we understand the need to not only NOT shy away from emerging technologies and social spaces, but to dive in with a positive approach, we can look at how to incorporate student blogs into the classroom effectively. Students need to write and students need to build positive footprints, so why not merge the two?

In order for students to use blogs effectively, their teachers must first experiment with professional blogs of their own. Blogs, like other online presences are permanent records. However, if done so in a positive light, blogs can be a record of an individual's writing that stay with them. Blogs also produce a larger audience than a standard paper essay and classroom discussion; they have the ability to reach tens, hundreds, thousands, millions, and even billions of people. For instance, look at the recent Bully the Movie that has spawned ratings wars because a 17-year old girl decided to use her online presence for a positive change. Like Katy, students can use social media and blogs to evoke change for a greater good. However, online tools like blogs and social media must not be shunned. Rather, they should be taught within schools. Students and teachers must become literate in the technology that has the ability to provoke massive change.

So, take a look at some tips for using blogs effectively:

Blogging sites:
Blogging in the classroom tutorials:
  • Richard Byrne's section on blogs and Websites contains tutorials on Blogger, Edublogs, Posterous, Wordpress, and other Website creators:
  • Teaching History with Technology has a great page on the appropriate uses of blogs in the classroom--both for research and creation:
    • Excerpt of 10 things to do with blogs:
      • Ten Things to Do With Your Blogs:

      • Post a homework question
        • Each student writes a one paragraph response
        • Read a few before class to see what your students think about the reading
      • Invite outsiders to comment on student work
        • If you know the author of a book you are reading, have students write beedback and invite the author to read the blog post, comment and respond
      • Have students from another classroom or school comment on your student's work
      • Have students post discussion questions for tomorrow's class
        • This is great when you know you won't have time to plan
        • If you know that you've flubbed a class and students are confused, have them post questions about things they don't understand
      • Have students post drafts for peer editing
        • While email is probably better for 1-1 peer editing, blogs are a great opportunity for multiple people to comment on a single piece of work
      • Post your lecture notes or a summary of the day's class
        • You can make one student per day responsible for posting the class notes. Either by type them as a comment or by taking a picture of their notebook or dry erase board.
        • The rotating student option is great for classes where you want students to focus on the discussion and not hav to worry about taking notes.
      • Post the daily homework assignment
        • Embed or link to any images, video or assignments you used that day in class.
        • This is a great option to enhance communication between school and parents.
      • Post links to supplementary materials from the internet
        • Author bios or websites
        • Links to book reviews
        • Links to relevant news articles
      • Create new blogs for team projects
        • Students can post their work to the blog so that others can see what they are doing. They can also comment on each other's work.
        • If faculty are trying to work as a team or core group, use a blog to communicate with each other about lessons, etc.
      • For an independent study, have students create their own blog
        • Have students post an outline of their week's work before the regularly scheduled weekly meeting.
      • Have students role play on their blog
        • For example, when studying the American Revolution, have some students blog about the revolution as Colonists, others as Loyalist or British. Then have students read each other's blogs and leave comments based on their role playing perspective.
  • Ashley Sikayun Slideshare on how to effectively use blogs in the classroom:

Blogging is just one way to create a positive digital footprint in the classroom. Stay tuned for other ways to effectively build an online presence while in the classroom.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Walking the positive path with digital footprints, App #3

Digital citizenship must be taught. Period. And, teachers must act as advocates for positive change. However, what should digital footprints consist of? This is where educators tend to fall blank.

To begin, you should set up an alert for when your footprint has been altered. To do this, simply create an alert through Google Alerts.

In the search query, enter your first and last names. Set the frequency and the recipient address of the alerts. Now, whenever new sources with those names appear, you will be notified. Hence, you will be notified when your digital footprint is altered.

As professionals, you want to build a different digital dossier than your students. However, the principal is still the same.

Rather than steering students away from online activities, writing, commenting, and building profiles on the Web should be encouraged--but, in a positive manner. By avoiding an online presence, a student or professional is limiting their resume. Avoiding it in the classroom is skipping an essential skill. And, it is mainly avoided in the classroom because educators have not been taught how to build an effective professional footprint for themselves.

So, let's begin with 10 starting rules:
1. Don't be afraid of social networking--use it to create change; however. Remember, if you post about changing your hair color from yellow to black, that will become part of your digital footprint. That said, it is a powerful tool. Imagine if you created posts--to a professional or classroom account--about your school's collaboration project or charity drive? Yes, that would become part of your digital footprint and, therefore, your resume. If social networking is avoided, so too is the positive information that can come from it.
2. Set up a Google alert so you know when your name appears in new search results. This will allow you to edit your footprint if links appear that are not representative of the you that you want to portray.
3. Google yourself. Find out what others see when they search you.
4. Link your online presences together. If you have a Facebook page, a blog, an email, and a Diigo page, reference those pages within each. You may even put them on a business card. This will create a stronger presence and tie your work together. Think of this as putting your resume down on paper.
5. Blog, write, blog. Whether or not you have an audience, blogging is a great way to create an online presence. The key is making sure it is a positive one, representative of your professional work. Therefore, challenge yourself and your students to write for a purpose and an audience. Blogging is not a negative source by default. Rather, it can be used for positive or negative purposes.
6. If you're a professional, get a LinkedIn. If students are seniors or above, let them know about LinkedIn. It is a great way to tie together your online presence.
7. Start small. Do not try to get into every online source at the beginning. Work on perfecting one or two sources before you dabble into others. If you string yourself too thin, you will not be able to effectively maintain a positive online presence.
8. Remember--a digital footprint is permanent. Use the Wayback machine--as a way to check archives. Even when you think a page is gone, it is cached/archived and can still be searched.
9. Use privacy settings, but remember that your information can still be forwarded on to others. If your friend A comments on a picture of yours, it can appear in one of their friends' newsfeeds. Or, that friend can share that photo or download it. Privacy does not truly exist in an online format.
10. Figure out what Web presence you want to create and develop your own digital portfolio.

Now, be sure to replicate this with your students. Once teachers can effectively understand and build their own digital footprints, they can begin to guide students through the process.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Becoming a classroom advocate for positive digital footprints, Day #2

EdTechSandyK : has a great set of digital footprint resources on Diigo.

(This is a good library of resources to turn to when undertaking an approach towards digital footprints.)

In order to become an advocate for positive digital footprints, you must first know what creates a digital footprint and how to create a positive one for yourself.

So, what is a digital footprint? Well, it is forever. It is created by ourselves and others. And, it is developed by our activities online and our relationships with others. Unfortunately, it is rarely constructed by what we do in school. I believe school and positive growth should play the largest part in creating a digital footprint.

Scott Steinberg of AllThingsD has a great starting article on Why Digital Citizenship Must be Taught in Schools. In it, he argues that three out of every four middle and high school students own a cell phone, 36% of teachers say they have not received enough training on preparing students for a digital world, and 74% of students on social networks have had negative experiences online. And, most of the focus is on sensationalizing the danger of the Web. However, that focus has not improved teacher knowledge of digital citizenship, improved student experiences online, or stopped the spreading growth of technology. So, why not focus on the positive and educate teachers?

Teachers need to, first, discover their own digital tattoo by going to none other than Digital Tattoo. Here you can find quizzes to assess your knowledge of digital footprints. This is a great needs assessment to discover what teachers do and do not know about digital identities.

Another great starting block is the Digital Tattoo YouTube video which provides useful instruction on what a digital identity is.

Positive digital footprints stem from using the Web to create positive change. If you discover your digital footprint is not anything of substance, it is time to make a change. And, this is where teachers come in. Challenge your students to projects that inspire them to make a difference online. This will leave a positive footprint that will follow them throughout their lives. What better gift to give student than a positive identity? One such challenge, 25 Ways to Make a Difference, entices students and educators to make positive change. This site can be replicated or used verbatim in the classroom. Other sites that call on teachers and students to act as advocates for positive change include ePals.

In addition to calling on educators and students to be digital advocates, teachers must encourage students to write online in a positive, transforming fashion. Blogs, social networking, and other Web 2.0 tools do not have to leave a negative identity or be a negative experience if they are used for constructive purposes. Cool Cat Teacher discusses the power of student ownership on the web as helping to shape positive digital footprints.

And, if your stuck on ways to teach your students about digital footprints and how to positively shape them, check out 21 things for your students. Here you will find at least 21 activities and resources for the classroom. Scholastic also provides a good background article with activities for teachings on digital citizenship.

It's time to get started being an advocate!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Focusing on the positive--creating positive digital footprints, day #1

Starting article on POSITIVE digital legacies:

(The article above is a great starting point for discussing positive digital footprints. Rather than focusing on what technology should NOT do, it is time to focus on how to use it for positive means.)

Everyone leaves behind a digital footprint just as everyone leaves behind a legacy of some sort. However, when we look to leave behind a legacy, we think about what positive traits we can instill in the future. Why not focus on that when creating digital footprints? The tools are out there; they just have to be used for a positive purpose.

To begin, Google search yourself. What digital footprint are you leaving behind? I decided to just search myself to see what others will find when they want to look up "Christy Fennewald."

When I search my name, does my name appear in a positive setting, a neutral setting or a negative setting? I like to think it is positive, but in most cases, it is neutral. And, this prompts me to think: what creates a digital footprint?

The following are all places where you can leave a digital footprint:
  • Facebook, MySpace, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social media
  • Blogs (like this one)
  • Newspaper articles
  • Court/police records
  • Websites
  • Portfolios
  • Web 2.0 applications and games
  • Competitions
  • "White pages"
  • any site where you provide personal identification (your name, phone number, email, or address)
  • And more
The point is, you are leaving a digital footprint even when you do not realize it. So, now is the time to start realizing it--realizing what trail you leave behind.

So, how do you begin to leave a positive trail behind? David Jakes has some great questions to beigin:

  • Do you believe that having an online presence is critical for you? For your students?  If so, how do you develop that within the context of your professional life, and for students, within the context of your school's climate and culture.
  • Within your school, have you had the conversations necessary to understand digital reputation and presence with all members of your school community?
  • Should students publish online?  Should schools help students create a positive digital record?  What if students don't want to publish their creations?
  • What spaces have you created that are safe for students to explore their creative and critical interests?  When does that space become permeable?
  • Should contributions be local first, and global second?  Can you encourage publishing if you are not living that yourself?
  • Has your school district developed the necessary policy to support student publishing? 
  • Have you protected your digital identity by reserving your domain name, and accounts on Facebook and Twitter?  What about your school?
 The focus is on the positive and on leaving positive legacies. However, districts must create a safe space for students to publish their work. Just as you work to create a positive image for yourself, your digital image should be positive.

The New York Times' The Learning Network has created a great toolkit for developing digital resumes in the classroom. This is a good way to get students to focus on building a positive image of themselves. These skills can then be applied to the digital footprint they create for themselves.

To borrow from David Jakes again, here are some great resources for exploring digital footprints. Students must first understand what a digital footprint it and these are useful tools for doing so:

Presentation resources at This is montage of David Jakes' digital footprint.
Twitter Costume
Personas: This is a great resource for discovering how the Internet views you. You can enter your name and it will show you how you appear. 

Pipl | People Search
Spezify: Great site to look up your name and see your footprint.

Digital Dossier: Great video on your digital legacy

Tufts University: Good article on what colleges are accepting from students

Wayback Machine |:Internet Archives for seeing what you will leave behind.

Critical Reading and Resources
Footprints in the Digital Age | Will Richardson
The Brand Called You | Fast Company
Leaving Digital Footprints That Count | Steve Ransom

Stay tuned for Day 2 of this series as we explore how you can be an advocate in the classroom for creating positive digital footprints. 

10 steps to creating a positive digital footprint

As an educator, I have spent a lot of time restricting my students from accessing certain materials and reminding them of what not to do when dealing with technology. However, I have not invested as much time in teaching students how to use technology appropriately and how to use it for positive means. And, I am not the exception. In the state of Missouri, we have enacted laws to prevent misuses of technology (Facebook teacher policy); however, we have invested little money or energy in teaching teachers, students, and others in the community how to create positive digital legacies. Maybe, if the focus was shifted to creating positive change, the results would change? With positive thought in mind, I have compiled 10 days' worth of materials for creating positive digital footprints. Stay tuned for day one...

Monday, April 2, 2012

30 apps in 30 days revisted--A summary

Over the past 30 days, I have delivered a listing of 30 different--free--classroom tools. Some have been Web 2.0 tools while others have been gadgets to add to your classroom. So, this post will just be a summary of the 30 applications and their usefulness in the classroom. Stay tuned for the next series: Creating your positive digital footprint in 10 days (debuts Tuesday).

  1. App:
    1. Integration: Zamzar is nothing flashy, but it is extremely helpful. It is an online conversion tool. It converts files and URLs up to 100mb. It sends them to your email account or you can purchase an account at a small cost and have them stored online.
  2. App: Audacity: (Click here for downloading the Beta version--only version Windows 7 can use).
    1. Integration: Audacity is an audio editing software and it's free! You can mix existing tracks or build your own. When you are done, you can export them as MP3s. It is easy to use, but the capability is almost endless.
  3. App: Evernote:
    1. Integration: This tool is similar to Diigo, but has a few twists. It also has a toolbar app that lets you take a note of the page you are working on. However, you can build groups and share those notes with specific groups. Evernote is branching out to many sub-units so check them out.
  4. App: Google Cloud Connect Toolbar:
    1. Integration: My favorite application, period--this toolbar lets users sync whatever file they are working on in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint with their Google Apps account. You can select your sharing settings and even get an embed code to embed the page into a Website. The best part is that you can now type up any document in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and have it automatically appear on a Website.
  5. App: Clear Audio Dropboxes:
    1. Integration: With this app, users can leave audio responses and recordings in a digital dropbox. Users go to the link of the drop box, press record, and start recording their audio response. When they are done, they press stop and the response is automatically saved for the instructor to hear.
  6. App: Diigo:
    1. Integration: An old pro, Diigo is an online bookmarking site that you can access from any computer. With Diigo, you can take notes on pages and save and share those notes. You can build folders of bookmarks and share those folders. You can also install the diigolet toolbar app and click on the button to take screenshots.
  7. App: VoiceThread:
    1. Integration: This site allows users to develop "voicethreads." These are segments of video that are narrated by either text or audio. Viewers of the videos can leave audio, video, or textual comments. Voicethread is a great site for building tutorials or having students upload projects and get peer-review in a variety of formats.
  8. App: Google Search Stories (make videos from your searches; examples were run in 2010 Super Bowl): (to create video) or (to watch video)
    1. Integration: Google Search Stories are short videos created by entering in a search. For instance, if you wanted to search for Breast Cancer Prevention agencies, you would be given five spaces for search terms. Each search term becomes a section in the video. Therefore, the video must show how search terms were narrowed down to find the answer--the last segment of the video. It's a great, easy-to-use, and fun tool that challenges students to search correctly.
  9. App: PowerPoint as a movie
    1. Integration: Though not an application, saving PowerPoint as a movie opens up a multitude of possibilities. When saving it as a movie, you can import it into Movie Maker or more easily upload it onto a Website.
  10. App: Google Body Browser:
    Google Art Project:
    1. Integration: These are two of my favorite applications. Google Body Browser allows you to search for specific parts of the human anatomy and view them in multiple views--vascular, muscular, bone, skin. This eliminates body molds and gives all students the ability to view the body in a 3D fashion. Likewise Google Art Project lets users take tours of some of the best known Art museums in the world. It uses Street-view technology so users can actually walk through the museums and read about the individual art collections. It's better than opening up an encyclopedia and almost as good as going there in person.
  11. App: Part of number 10
    1. Integration:
  12. App: A Thin Line:
    1. Integration: MTV has created a decent application in A Thin Line, which targets bullying. It allows viewers to take quizzes on bullying as well as share their experiences and unite with others in bully prevention. And, it does it all in the "coolness" of MTV.
  13. App: SpaceTime:
    1. Integration: This is a search engine that lets users search in a 3D fashion. It shows results in windows that appear as a slideshow. This is create for the more visual and hands-on learners.
  14. App: Lino: and Wridea:
    1. Integration: Both of these applications are similar to wallwisher. Essentially, they are just online notetaking boards. However, Linoit allows you to create a board for a class so you can share notes for specific classes during the day. They can also be used for personal purposes as well.
  15. App: Woices:
    1. Integration: Woices is similar to Google's City Tours (which is no longer available). Users can build a audio track for any location on the Woices map and then, share the story. Audio recordings can range for family stories and the oral tradition to reviews of restaurants. You can even build walks with multiple audio recordings. This is great for students building projects over places.
  16. App: ToonDoo:
    1. Integration: This site gives users the ability to develop cartoons/graphic novels. Toondoo spaces is also available (specific for education); however it is at cost. Toondoo allows users to share books with the public or keep them private and share them through a link. It also allows users to upload their own images or select from a dashboard. It is a great site for all ages.
  17. App: Compflight:
    Little Bird Tales:
    Microsoft Digital Storytelling for teachers:
    1. Integration: This is the digital storytelling trifecta. With Compflight, users can search images by license. Little Bird Tales is a great site for getting young students to develop digital stories. And, Microsoft Digital Storytelling for teachers provides a wealth of resources on digital storytelling and copyright guidelines.
  18. App: Aviary: (for Google Apps for Education users) for other users:
    1. Integration: This is available for Google Apps for Education users as well. It is a design suite for free! And, all files created can be accessed through Google Docs. Aviary provides access to image editing, vector creation, audio editing, and music sheet creation. It is easier to use than the Adobe suite's free!
  19. App: vozMe:
    1. Integration: vozMe is a text to speech translator. It can be installed on your browser so that whenever you highlight a selection of text, it is read back to you in a voice (select male or female). This is great for students with special needs. Visuwords is a graphical representation dictionary. When you look up a word, it is displayed in a concept map fashion so you can see its connections.
  20. App: Wii Remote for interactive whiteboard: . Software is available here:
    1. Integration: This is a handmade interactive whiteboard with three basic parts: IR pen, Wii Remote, and a bluetooth adapter. Using these three tools, schools can create interactive whiteboards for $50. Though the solution is not perfect, it is awesome when you consider the price. In fact, I am building these at my district right now.
  21. App: Google Moderator:
    1. Integration: This is another app available to Google Apps for Education users. It is an online discussion/presentation space. Teachers can build series (think of them as units), with topics. Then, students can create questions or suggestions within each of those topics. Others can rank those questions. Teachers can then answer those questions online. It stays as a great resource for students to return to. It even serves as a basis for a final exam.
  22. App: Google Voice:
    1. Integration: This is available through download. It provides users with the ability to merge multiple phones into one number. And, it gives speech to text translation. Therefore, teachers can acquire a Google Voice number and deliver it to students. When students call that number, it will ring (on a phone that is linked to it or via a headset attached to the computer). When it goes to VM, it will appear as an email message in Gmail. And, since it is free calling within the U.S., it is a great solution for schools.
  23. App: MuseScore:
    1. Integration: Finally, a free site that lets teachers and students create their own sheet music and share it. With the addition of groups, this site is great for teachers who want to build classes and provide sheet music for those classes. Students can even create their own and share it within a group, to a specific person, or make it public.
  24. App: Googlios:
    Digication (This is actually accessed through your Google Apps for Education account, however)
    1. Integration: Googlios is a term created by a Google Apps for Education Trainer. His site contains a wealth of resources on creating ePortfolios. Digication is a tool, available to Google Apps for Education users, that builds ePortfolios for teachers and students based on templates (a standard K-12 template is already available) that users can create and share.
  25. App: Goalbook
    1. Integration: Goalbook is a great site for special services teachers. It provides a meeting space for parents, students, and teachers to discuss a student's goals and progress towards those goals. Convert.Files is a conversion site that converts files up to 200mb. Acmi is a storyboard creation site. This site allows students to search other storyboards and use them as templates or create their own and share and publish them. Classconnect is a Web storage space for teachers with a twist--it allows teacher to build teacher communities and search for lessons by topic. It is a great networking site for teachers.
  26. App: Screenleap:
    1. Integration: This simple, but handy tool lets a user share his/her screen with any other user through a URL. This is great for teachers who don't have Classroom Management Software like SmartSync and Vision. Though a teacher cannot run a student's computer though this site, it is great for sharing a Website or modeling an assignment on their computers.
  27. App: Digital Learning kits: and eLearning guides:
    1. Integration: Both of these apps use Google Apps for Education. Digital Learning Kits utilize Google Docs as a space for hosting images, links, and documents. They are collections of content that encourage students and teachers to obey copyright laws. The eLearning guide is a sample eLearning unit that can be completed through Google Docs entirely. This provides an alternative from standard LMS.
  28. App: Boolify:
    1. Integration: Boolify allows users to search Boolean style in a more visual pleasing atmosphere. It helps teach users how to correctly use Boolean searching. Boolify is part of The Public Learning Media Laboratory, which provides many Information Literacy resources. All of these tools help to make students more digitally literate.
  29. App: Google scripts with Flubaroo:
    1. Integration: With the help of Google Scripts like Flubaroo, you can now create self-graded quizzes in Google Forms. Through formulas, you have been able to develop self-graded quizzes with forms for some time; however, scripts are a one-time deal. Once you develop the script, you merely have to apply it and it will grade your quizzes. It saves the time that a formula involves.
  30. App: Google Sky:
    1. Integration: An extension of Google Earth into the sky, moon, and Mars. This app can be accessed through Google Earth or through the Website address above. This tool moves kids beyond Earth and into outer space, allowing them to become astronauts for the day.
Check out 10 days of digital footprints tomorrow!