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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Creativity with Foksonomies (sidebar: Techno-Overload)

Some of the creative applications of folksonomies, as shown in yesterday's lecture really appeal to me as a further method for integrating learning areas. I think many students (and teachers) when they think of creativity don't immediately also think of technology. Granted there are visual art projects happening in schools, including photography production and editing, movie making, poster making. Using folksonomy providers such as Tagxedo and Word Mosaic can bridge the gap between literacy and visual art. Folksonomies also put an interesting spin on brainstorming or mind-mapping, with the added bonus of having web-content behind each key word/phrase.

In saying this I'm looking at the aesthetic applications of folksonomies, but there are also the broader need for simplifying or organising information found. The functions of Delicious, whereby you can post a description of your tag has fantastic benefits for working on annotation and note-taking skills and critical literacy skills. Likewise, using Instapaper to then go in and assess what has been written for each tag and give students constructive feedback. Instapaper could also be a good way for developing critical literacy skills and even have students review each other's online work (e.g. students use Instapaper to peer-review other people's blog postings or tag definitions). There are almost endless possibilities.

And that brings me to my next point and something I have been thinking of during the course. We've been talking about information-overload, but what about technology-overload - I feel overwhelmed by the number of tools I've been shown and their applications for classroom use. It's not that I don't want to use these tools in the classroom, it's just that I have one idea and then I find another tool that does something similiar, but takes it in a more interesting direction, then there's another tool that is more like the best of both worlds before I find yet another tool and another and another. I feel like the Ark of the Covenant has now been opened and whilst what's inside is wonderful and mesmerising, it's causing my mind to have a meltdown. I was never all that technically skilled with computer technology, so this is a major learning curb for me and I'm having to prevent myself from running away with these nifty integrated lesson ideas for fear of getting carried away with the technology.

So this again comes down to using the technology as a tool, but also knowing the limitations of my own knowledge and skills, the students' knowledge and skills, the schools resources, the context in which I'm teaching and being able to integrate the technology with a teaching style I'm comfortable with. I imagine getting this balancing act right will come with time and experience as I fiddle around with these new technologies in different contexts.

And finally, my own try at a Tagxedo cloud for my integrated unit:


  1. You're right - there is a lot of technology covered in this course! Unfortunately it also has to be covered fairly quickly, given that there are only 10 lessons (not counting the excursions) ... Remember, though, that the idea is to give you an overview of what's out there so that you have a sense of the possibilities and can go back and explore them as and when appropriate. My main advice, as I've mentioned on a few other blogs, is to pick a couple of tools which you think might be useful in your teaching. Only when you feel comfortable with those should you begin adding to your 'repertoire'. There will always be newer and better tools; the main thing is that those you choose are pedagogically suitable and benefit your students' learning. You can always add to and build on them in the future.

  2. I agree with this and it makes me feel better to kind of focus on a few tools and get to know them well before starting working on the next one. Without doubt, this course has opened up endless possibilities, which in itself can be overwhelming!

  3. Yes, I'm very comforted to read Mark's comments and it's definitely the way to go. The blog I set up with my science students was a great experiment and has got me interested in implementing something similar in my classroom. I feel a blog is a safe place to start for me at the moment, then I could branch out from there depending on the students' (and my) capabilities.

  4. Remember, too, that you can always learn from the students. If you provide the basic technological infrastructure - such as a blog - you'll probably find that they come up with ideas, and possibly even other tools for creating embeddable artefacts, that you may then want to adopt/adapt for other purposes. Every time I receive a new bunch of assignments from students working on e-learning projects, I discover a few new useful tools! I guess we all just have to become comfortable with gradually adding pedagogically appropriate tools to our repertoire over time.

    Remember, too, that education can be a partnership: the teacher brings the pedagogical expertise, and (some of) the students bring (some of) the technological expertise. It's a fruitful way of moving forward ... Of course, it does depend on what age group you're teaching, but the possibility is there even with many younger students.

  5. Hi The Ark of the Covenant was a good one! i can identify with that.