Saturday, December 21, 2013

Blogger: Can I be one??

Throughout my time during this educational technology course, I question if I can be a successful blogger or not.  It's all about timing and writing about something that you have a passion for.  This is why people are successful.  Another thing that is successful is vlogging (video blogging) because people have a passion for what they do.  The blogs I followed have not really discussed what I thought they were going to discuss.  For example, one blog I like to follow is Dr. Zeitz blog.  He posts so many new things in technology that I never would have been able to find on my own, which helps me as I go into the work force.

I see a common theme throughout the blogs in that they are all about education, but other than that, I really do not see a theme.  I obviously selected them because they are going to pertain to me in the future as I want to be a teacher too. Below you can find a link to the blogs that I have been following throughout the year.

I have found that teachers who include real life examples appeal to me more because I can see how it can be implemented in my classroom rather than just thinking about it.  Through images, videos, and actual lessons, it is easier to see how to have a successful implementation of the things found on the internet.

Blogs I follow: - 2 cents Worth Teachers Teaching Teachers The Open Classroom Dr. Z Reflects

Second Life Extras

Like previously stated, you can do so much with Second Life.  This one included creating my own fancy attire.  This is something that doesn't take much time to complete.  All I had to do was edit my appearance and change what I was wearing.  This is something that can be done in a classroom that is focusing on business or textiles because it doesn't take much time so students would be able to create multiple things in one class period.  Furthermore, they can possibly put more into their designs and figure out how to market them and what appeals to people today.  Students can figure out what it takes to be successful.  They can also use Second Life as a tool for collaboration and design before actually creating their finished products because it can constantly be changed.  This is something, that if were real, I would wear to a fancy dinner with colleagues or a recognition dinner because of how simple it is.

Second Life Tour: Visiting the Parks

For my Educational Technology class, we had to create a tour in Second Life. I love a little adventure, so that is why I chose to do mine over all sorts of parks.  Below is the tour I have created to access all of the places I would have students visit.  This includes all of the parks I would want my students to visit so they have the chance to see something they may not get to everyday!

Who doesn't love a little adventure?? These places are all parks that have some aspect of adventure to them, whether it be an amusement park for those days where indoor recess just doesn't cut it, or a natural park with waterfalls and caves.  These are the places to go for the most entertaining time in SL.
Artsea Amusement Free Park
    Here you can play around with things that are at a typical amusement park such as a ferris wheel and numerous games.  Things can also be purchased for your own building if so desired.  I personally liked the train because that was my favorite thing at Adventureland growing up.
*Funtastic* Amusement Park ~ ENDLESS FUN!
    This amusement park reminded me more of what it was like to be at a carnival.  There were more rides and such that the kids could participate on if they had down time at the end of the day.
The Chocolate Factory
    This is a replica of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory which may be remembered by students after seeing the movie or reading the book.  This would be like having your own virtual golden ticket to see what's inside.
Virtual State Fair
    Iowa is known as having one of the best state fairs in the country, but not every child has the opportunity to experience that.  So, through Second Life, each student can experience their own virtual state fair, but especially the midway!
Enchanted Adventures Theme Park - Main Street
    This Disney themed amusement park isn't like all the others.  This one is at a haunted theme park.  You can spend your day hanging out with the ghosts, watch a parade fall into the rabbit hole and many more things that include every thing that could go wrong.
Canterlot - Royal City of Equestria
    This My Little Pony inspired amusement park is going to hit home with those little girls in the classroom.  It provides an awesome experience of hanging out with the ponies and touring their castle.  There are even a few games included. 
Winter Wonderland - Holiday Fun!
    This park is just in time for the holiday season.  You can walk around and see the snow and wintery weather throughout the park.  It is very calming for days when the weather outside is frightful, you can sit back and enjoy the weather from the heat of your home.
Winter Park
    This park offers so much to do everyday.  For example, for those parents who are just too scared to let their kids ride a snowmobile, why not do it virtually.  This is the perfect place to do it, and while they are riding the snowmobile, you can take a nice sleigh ride.
Jellybeans Too
    This little town offers so much to do.  From visiting Santa's Workshop to making your own pizza, Jellybeans Too is the place to see.  It is also catered to fit the seasons, so if it's summer, you can expect to go swimming here!
Waterfalls, Caves, Ponds, Streams & Bridges by Fort Serenity
    This park offers so much for people who don't have access to things like caves.  Many Science units talk about different weather related things such as formation of new landmarks, so this park would be the place to explore those things virtually.

Second Life: Tours

Second Life has a lot of options, one of which is having a tour.  These tours can be created by anyone and submitted to a bank where the can be viewed by anyone later on.  This is a great aspect of SL because it allows an educator to pick which places he/she wants her students visiting.  For example, I did a tour about games with in SL.  Below is a compilation of snapshots I took while completing my tour.  While completing the tour, I found a couple of sites that did not seem very kid appropriate, so this is one thing that you would want to do with your tour, which is to check to make sure that everything is appropriate for kids to be seeing.  Another thing that is important to do is to test the games and make sure they work so that the students are not discovering this and having issues with the land they are in.  Lastly, before sending the kids off into SL, make sure all of your places work.  Because some of these tours may have been created a while ago, not all the places work.  For example, the Team Tester within the gaming tour did not work for me when I attempted to teleport there.

This is from Celestial Towers, the one that I did not find
kid appropriate.

This game is a 3 player game, sort of like Simon and that you
select a button and if you get it wrong, you're out.

This game is my ABSOLUTE favorite to play at any arcade!
Whack-A-Mole: what a classic!!

Dance Dance Revolution and Pac-Man! 

Second Life:Avatars

The beauty of Second Life is that it is always changing, which means you can change as well.  This blog is just going to show a few pictures of what I did to change my appearance and mess around with certain settings to make me look more realistic.
This is an image of what my avatar originally looked like before the changes.

This is my avatar after changing the clothes.

This is my avatar after changing the make up.

This is my avatar after completely changing it; I am a unicorn!

Second Life: The beginning of the journey

Now that we know how to move about Second Life (SL), it is important that we know exactly WHAT we can do with this virtual world.  There is so much that we can do throughout this huge place.  First and foremost, we can walk/run/fly to basically anywhere that we please without limitations.  This is a scary thought because if we put students on SL, they can do the exact same thing we can.  Granted, as educators we can monitor what the students are viewing, but just like anything else on the internet, not everything is safe and kid friendly.  To the left, you can see just how basic it can be, with arrows to guide the NewBees around SL.

In SL, you are pick an avatar, but what is nice about this: it can be changed when ever you want!  Often we see that we have to stick with the avatar we select when we first begin using the website, but with SL you can change it whenever you want.  After that, you can change your appearance.  There are places all around in which you can buy new clothes and place them either in your inventory or on your body.  You also have to remember that you can see other people throughout your tour in Second Life.  For example, in the above snapshot, you can see that there is another NewBee going through the same thing that I was, learning what Second Life is all about.
Once done with the basics, it is time to explore.  This time is crucial because it's often when students discover how much left arrow they need as compared to the up arrow.  Giving students time to explore and fiddle around with things is when a lot of the learning happens.  In the picture to the right, you can see that it a simple snapshot of what I was looking at at the time, which was before emerging into the city type land.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Second Life: What is it??

Second Life is an online virtual world that allows people to design avatars and create images of what they want to look like.  Second Life allows people to design a world that they wish existed or allows them to create simulations that cannot be duplicated in real life.  With the help of SL, students can create a world for numerous projects that can further their learning.  They can also use worlds that have already been created.  It's simple: all you have to do is search a topic of interest at the top and you can find a bunch of worlds already tailored to your interests.  However, teachers need to be extremely careful with what the students are looking for; in fact, maybe creating a tour would be more beneficial because this allows them to know EXACTLY which lands to go to and how to get there.  Second Life is geared more towards older age students such as high school and college age level.  This is simply because of the complexity of the website.  However, with parents help, I feel as though SL could be beneficial to younger students as well.

Collaborative Gaming

Every successful classroom has some form of collaboration.  This is true for anything: in order to be successful, you need the input of others.  This goes for the classroom as well.  A teacher is constantly receiving input from his/her teacher about what the students like and do not like. For example, students interests change throughout the course of a school year, so they will react to things differently each time something changes.  This is a form of feedback and/or collaboration.

Gaming is no different.  Gaming can be looked at as single player or multi-player.  Multi-player games are always more collaborative than the single player games, but it truly depends on what games you use in your classroom.  Sites such as "Club Penguin" and PBS create games that are very collaborative for children because they need to work together to achieve a common goal.  Another very collaborative game that teachers may not think about using is RuneScape.  This website has numerous games that start at the very beginning of learning how to play a multi-player game and go to the very advanced stages of these games as well.  I have attached a link to RuneScape above so that you can go and explore before the kids get a chance to.

Collaboration in gaming is not only for the younger kids.  There are games for kids ages 4 to adulthood that work on building a cooperative learning place.  For example, one we worked with in class is Second Life.  This online virtual world creates a place where people can go and tour different places and build things of their own.  It is a place where they can have simulations that may make learning about things more realistic if the simulation is something that cannot be done in real life.  It's all about how a teacher executes a game in order to make the collaboration successful.