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Safari Live, Wallwisher, and Technology Withdrawal South of the Border April 6, 2010

Posted by fafeeley in Uncategorized.
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Our latest virtual meeting took place on Safari Live, a service provided by the Chicago Public Schools which provides videoconferencing. I was a little disappointed that I “showed up late” as a result of difficulties joining the group that I believe are due to Windows 7. After building my day around that 7:30 PM meeting I struggled and struggled to get into the environment. Eventually I gave up and started up my old computer, knowing that it would probably be able to access the site and operate my webcam. During the 15 minutes or so that it takes to start up that antique of a computer, my partner arrived home. I immediately relieved him of his laptop and was chatting and webcamming with my classmates like a pro in no time! This tool has great potential. We managed to have five or six of us using it at once. For small group meetings it provides the closest thing to an actual meeting or seminar possible in the virtual world. It lacked many cool options of second life (like cool graphics and the ability to “fly” and “teleport”). But it’s much more personal because you can actually see the real-life faces of the people involved talking, moving, smiling, etc.

During my spring break vacation I experienced tech withdrawal! A group of us met up in Tucscon and drove down to spend a few days on the beach of Puerto Peñasco in the State of Sonora, Mexico. None of us made the effort to get international service for the days in Mexico, and we were collectively curious about what it would be like to be cut off from phone service, instant messaging, e-mail, and Internet data for a few days. On the second day almost everybody but me went into town in the morning to shop at the fish market for dinner and do some sightseeing. I stayed behind to read and nap. About three hours after the others departed I began to think, “Gee, they have been gone a while,” which quickly turned into, “There is no way on earth to reach them, and I won’t have any way of reaching them even if they don’t come back for ten more hours!” Fortunately they returned very shortly after my irrational thinking took over. I fully expected to feel a bit anxious to use my iPhone after a few days, but this moment came after only 24 hours of being unplugged. I am happy to say that after that I really forgot about all those communication options until we returned to the U.S.

Here’s a photo of us hiking in Sabino Canyon in Tucson:

There are some other photos from this trip on my FLICKR page (accessible on the right hand side of this blog).

Our assignment this week was to create a “wall” on Wallwisher.com. This tool allows you to create a wall on which members of a community of any size can post “sticky notes” to answer a question or contribute to a discussion.  Sticky notes can contain text (up to 120 characters per sticky note) and/or an image, audio, or video link. The person who creates the wall moderates the content by approving or disapproving any “sticky note” comments – an important consideration for classroom use. Individuals who post comments can identify themselves, create a name, or simply post anonymously.

I decided to create a Wallwisher wall to support a project I began today with three classes of 6th grade. They are working on a women’s biography project that is a collaborative project involving myself, the English teacher, and the technology teacher. In the context of the Big6, they will select and research a biography subject; write a “script” about that person’s life within parameters set by the English teacher; create a PowerPoint presentation (heavy on images, light on text); convert their PowerPoint slides into JPG files and import them into Voicethread.com; record themselves reading their “scripts” to accompany their Voicethread images; create a bibliography; and include 3 reflections about this research experience using Big6 terminology correctly. I have provided them a list of approved resources, step-by-step instructions, and a grading rubric – all of it posted in a folder on FirstClass so the students can click easily to the links of approved resources. Because of the complexity, I expect some difficulties. So I added a link to my Wallwisher “wall” for the students to post questions about the project. The link to it is included on the list of approved resources. Each week at the outset of class I will review the posted questions and address them.

Here is my “wall”: 6th Grade Women’s History Project

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Fran Feeley’s Blog by Francis A. Feeley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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Comments»

1. Lisa Perez - April 6, 2010

Fran: I made the mistake two years ago in taking an “unplugged” vacation for a week in the Smoky Mountains. I learned that, while I like to step back from technology, I still like to have SOME access to it while on vacation. Never again…

Great use of Wallwisher! Make sure you share it with your colleagues at the meeting today. BTW, our next online meeting will be on Safari Live, too. I think you’ll have a much better experience next time.


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