Friday, July 25, 2008

Overall course reflection — IT 648

I am working on my fourth degree, and this has been one of the best classes I have ever taken. Period.

I have learned about things I didn't even know existed, and the best part is that I am now curious about all these new technologies and excited about how I can incorporate them into my teaching and also into my personal life.

I will never be in charge of the Mass Comm computer labs at UCA, so what I needed to learn from this class was the output, and I have succeeded in that goal. I have learned something from every assignment, even the easiest one — Web Searching — I'm getting the new iPhone when I get home next week, and and I can't wait to visit the Mac Apps store and dive into all the free downloads on the Apple page that I discovered from that assignment! This is my debut into the world of blogging, and although I still have some reservations about blogging to excess (see my post of June 5, Blogfolio), I certainly can see how a blog can be useful. I have kept up with some hot news from home this summer mostly through the Arkansas Times' Arkansas blog.

Perhaps my favorite assignment was designing the Web site. This is because I never dreamed I could do something like this, so it was very empowering to me and seemed to set the stage for the summer. I embraced each new challenge/assignment and was thrilled when I accomplished it.

My strength, I feel, is my attitude toward the technology and my willingness — even eagerness — to continue to learn new things. I will be keeping up with Dr. Yuen's blog to stay on the cutting edge of this area.

My weakness, obviously, is the technical side (as I'm sure was obvious on the final!) As I said, I will never have to be in charge of any computers at UCA — I am lucky to have a number of colleagues more tech-savvy than I am — so the topologies and cabling issues won't be an issue for me. Although I have found this summer to be so much fun, I truthfully am not "wired" to be interested in or good at these kinds of mechanical things. I have, however, somehow soaked up a better understanding of the technical side (still not very much, I'm afraid.)

My future learning goals don't really include improving on that weakness — as I said, I have lots of colleagues far better than I am in those areas. But I certainly intend to continue learning the skills learned from this class and going beyond those as the Web evolves even further. As I head home for the 2008-2009 school year, I will be in contact with Dr. Yuen through his blog and with my classmates through the class listserv and hope to be able to continue to learn from all of them.

I hope to integrate everything I've learned in this class into my teaching. I will be teaching Advanced Reporting in the fall, and I can see using a blog and threaded discussions as we study politics, city, state and county government, etc. I will be creating a class Web site as well as linking my personal site to the UCA site. I'm not exactly sure yet how to incorporate the circaVie timeline — some of my lectures, such as politics, will have some historical background, such as Arkansas state government, so that would be a good option. When I am able to get access to the site manager for my WebQuest, I definitely want to use that. The Arkansas Gazette is the most important newspaper in the history of the state, and I want to keep that newspaper alive for future generations of Arkansas journalists (hence my film and my dissertation). As I've said, I will definitely use the Eyejot video messages in my personal life, but I will also try to figure a way to incorporate this learning into my journalism classes. Finally, I am committed to making better use of PowerPoint, and Slideshare will be a great option for doing this.

This class has changed my teaching forever!

Online presentation using SlideShare

Once again, another very fun, very cool assignment. My only complaint was that I don't feel like I knew enough to be able to choose a good topic by the time we had to commit to one. But I enjoyed it immensely.

I did misunderstand something in the assignment. Because I haven't worked a great deal with PowerPoint, I read "including notes" as endnotes. I was glad to read all the e-mails among the group — that helped straighten things out for me.

A little blip: last weekend when I was at home, one of my UCA colleagues e-mailed me a PowerPoint, and when I tried to open it, my PowerPoint application disappeared — well, not exactly — it was Xed out! I had not played with SlideShare much before then, but luckily I went by UCA before heading back to USM to get Office reinstalled. I got the Mac update instead, which I would have eventually gotten anyway, but, of course, when I did the SlideShare, I got the message that the site doesn't yet support the updated Office. So I converted my show to a PDF, which I would have done anyway per Dr. Yuen's instructions, but that could have been very frustrating.

I chose as my topic the conversion of traditional journalism courses to Web-based instruction, and I intend to do this as I head back to UCA in the fall. There is lots of information out there that I didn't get to, obviously, but I know enough to get started, so I will begin the transition process when I get home. Truthfully, I haven't used PowerPoint much in my teaching — I like to write on the white board as we go, and I've even had students tell me they prefer that I don't use PowerPoint (I think they get tired of it sometimes). But that will change starting this fall. I'll probably keep using the markers and white board just because that keeps me — and them — engaged, but I will also use PowerPoint and Slideshare.

Here's the link:

Eyejot video message

Another really fun assignment! This one was to create a video message with Eyejot. It's very convenient that my MacBook has the built-in camera and microphone, so this was really quite easy. I created an account, complete with profile photo and video message, then just followed the directions. The only problem I had was figuring out the link to send to the class, but again, when I sent out the call to my classmates, they responded.

What I'm most excited about are the personal possibilities of this technology. My sister and her family live in North Pole, Alaska, so I sent this link on to her. With the end of the summer semester looming, I haven't had a chance to talk to her in detail about it, but I definitely plan to use it to communicate with family. Also, I'm planning to go to London with the USM group for British Studies next summer, and this kind of technology will make that separation from family easier.

I also played some with Dimdim, even e-mailing my sister in Alaska to set up a "meeting." We weren't able to hook up -- I was in class when she got the e-mail -- but I think that will be even better than the Eyejot. I will continue to explore these technologies.


This assignment was very educational, interesting, and also very frustrating for me. It was a long one, requiring eight pages, and WebQuest was a new concept to me, so I spent a week reading all the lecture notes, readings, etc., from Dr. Yuen. Then I started doing the actual design. I was thrilled at first that I actually remembered how to use Google PageCreator, so I laid out the templates first. I changed the layout from my Web site purposely to experiment with the program, and I got the first five pages done with the plan that I would finish all eight, then come back and tweak the layout, add some media, etc.

Of course, the best laid plans sometimes go awry, and this one did. When I sat down to work on the site Thursday, July 10 — five days before it was due, and two days before my husband was joining me for our anniversary weekend — I couldn't even get to the site manager. The error message about enabling JavaScript came up. I went to my Media and Society class Thursday night and Robin Kauth, my classmate and friend, tried to help, but we couldn't figure anything out. Dr. Yuen and I e-mailed back and forth between Hattiesburg and China. I decided to go to the Cook Library computer lab Friday morning before Ken arrived, and guess what — neither Mac nor PC was any different. I was able to create another Google account, but my five pages were already done on the old site. In a panic, I called Robin and arranged to meet her at her office, and although we couldn't get anywhere with her laptop, somehow we were able to access the site on her PC desktop. So I hurriedly finished the last three pages just so that I would at least have the assignment done.

Although the content, I think, was good, it wasn't pretty, and I had really wanted to do more work on it, but Ken and I went to Biloxi for the weekend and I still couldn't access it when we got back. When we met for our IT 648 final, Dr. Yuen and I were able to look at the error together -- I can access my Web site through PageCreator, but the WebQuest site is still dead. Before I head home next week, I'm going to try to get with Dr. Yuen again to see about saving the WebQuest to another site so that I can continue to work on it. I'd like to use it in my classes this fall.

I'm not going to give up yet! Here's the link:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

circaVie Timeline

Another absolutely cool assignment -- I can't believe how many new tricks I'll have when I return to UCA! I haven't posted the URL yet because I'm going to play with the timeline some more -- I'm going to take my scanner home this weekend and scan in some old photos from my pre-digital camera days to make the timeline more complete, photo-wise. Here's the link:

UPDATE: I picked up lots of old photos at my parents' house yesterday and spent some time today scanning them in. My timeline is probably more detailed than anyone cares about, but it was much fun to me, and I'm glad to get a lot of those old photos scanned.

My brain is also racing with new ideas for using this timeline technique in my classes, but also (more important at the moment) for my HIS 710 class this summer, during which I am preparing my prospectus for my dissertation on the history of the Arkansas Gazette, 1902-1991. I think this will be a great tool as I sketch out the prospectus. From my previous research, I have the idea outlined in my mind, but it will be nice to be able to see it sketched out visually as well as to organize many of the images that I have in my laptop — photographs from the various archival collections, pages from the newspaper, etc.

My biggest problem at the moment is wanting to spend all my time playing with all my new technological skills instead of doing homework like Stats!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Web site

I absolutely loved this assignment! I was even more green about creating a Web site than I was about doing a blog -- I can't believe how much I've already learned in this class -- and it's all such fun. My colleagues at UCA can't believe what I'm learning. I may have lots of new job duties when I return in the fall!

What has been the best part has been the empowered attitude I'm bringing to all these new tasks. Instead of being afraid of the technology, I'm jumping in head-first, and I find that I'm able to do almost everything. That is such a good feeling. The only thing I haven't been able to solve on this assignment is the table, and I'm enough ahead that I've sent out a call to my classmates for help before the deadline for posting the site.

UPDATE: Of course, my classmates came through, and I was able to complete the table. I will keep the info for future use.

One of the best parts of this class has been I've been forced to learn a lot of the technological tasks that I've wanted to learn but never had time or a reason to sit down and do. For example, that silly scanner -- I've had it for three years but never really had a reason to sit down and learn it — now I've got a new toy!

I plan to link my new personal Web site ( through the UCA site so that students can learn a little more about me. I've noticed many of my colleagues have linked their personal sites, so I'm slowly joining the crowd.

Another good thing about the last couple of weeks has been the lively discussions we've had. I'm looking forward to more.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

IT 648 Blogfolio

For my IT 648 — Telecommunications in Education — class this summer, we are creating a blogfolio to document learning and provide reflection. We will reflect on each of our varied assignments: Web Searching, Creating our own Blog, Creating a Web Site About Ourselves, Creating Our Stories with an Interactive Timeline on circaVie, Creating a WebQuest, Creating a Video Message with Eyejot, and Creating an Online Presentation using SlideShare.

I have never taken an online class before, but after a little more than a week, I find that I like it, although it does take a little getting used to. Already, though, my mind is racing with new ideas about using these new technological tools (for me) in my classes.

The Web Searching exercise was a good introduction and way to get into the routine of summer school. I was familiar with most of the concepts, but I learned some new search tools from Dr. Yuen's Ultimate Search Page and a lot about new software downloads from Apple.

The Blog assignment has been fascinating — I've been a reader of blogs but never really had any desire to do one myself. I am amazed at how simple it is to create and maintain one. I'm excited to think about how I can use this tool in my classes. I am a little leery, though, of the whole idea of putting one's personal thoughts — really a journal — online for the world to see. I had an experience with this a few years ago in which one of my students blasted a ton of people — including me — on his blog. Of course, it came out to common knowledge around UCA, and that young man had a lot of apologizing to do. He never dreamed those words would come back to haunt him. It would have been far better for him to have unloaded his frustrations in a hard-copy journal. Something about the ability to put private thoughts for all the world to see — coupled with his amazing irresponsibility — makes me uneasy with the whole Blog phenomenon. Perhaps it's just a lesson for people to take responsibility for their online actions.