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Friday, February 20, 2004 Reflections is the online educational environment for Artic Transect 2004, a seven-month, 3,000 mile journey across Canada's Nunavut province. The following are some reflections about the Web site and the educational experience.

With the variety of learning activities at the site, teachers should not have a problem finding something that can fit their curriculum.

The designers use current technology well including Quicktime movies, QTVR, audio clips, and chat rooms.

It is overwhelming as others have commented. It might be helpful to offer pre-defined paths through the environment that showcases the main areas. The paths might also link to topic areas or learning strategies that a teacher could pursue.

The personal aspect of the journey is well-covered with the biographies and comments, both human and canine.

With the technology and with the personal reflections by the team, the reality of this expedition is conveyed over the Internet.

Great use of outside resources like Teachers are able to discover these resources and use them in other ways besides for polarhusky.

Chat: I read the Ernst chat and I was very impressed with the variety of questions and the stories the students shared. Most students log in from Canada and the US but I found one from Australia definitely giving it the feel of a global community.

Guests numbered up to 48 which I assume means at least that many people were participating. That's great! (Could have been more than that but you would only know if they posted.)

I think it would be helpful to provide statistics on some of the activities like the chats to give educatorys an idea of how well different strategies work. A report at the end of the project discussing these issues would also be very helpful. (Maybe that is done?)

The collaboration zones are being used and the information is very interesting. One girl, in Eagan, wrote that it was the first real snow she had seen since 2nd grade. Lack of snow these past years has been saddening for me but it was very interesting to see her perspective. She will grow up thinking that it does not snow that much in Minnesota.

I think the collaboration area would be an excellent exercise for younger classes and for language students. It's also a good place to practice language skills as the articles are short and much of the vocabulary is easy to understand. Just exploring the collaboration areas at the site for a class could lead to many different learning activities.

One activity could be to work solely in the Phenology Zone. Divide the class in three groups, one for each section: Physical Observations, Animals, Plants. Then the students study their topic and report in the Zone. Students could rotate through each group. What a great way to study the environment that we live in.


There's a lot of scrolling at the site and the links at the bottom to the top don't work on my system. I think there is some bad html on the page that is causing this.

The flash map on the home page is a useful tool for providing basic info about the journey. Would be nice if it didn't have to load each time you went to the home page.

The "breadcrumb trail" navigation strategy would be helpful on the site. ("Breadcrumb Navigation: Further Investigation of Usage").

Wednesday, February 18, 2004
Language Study on the Web

In preparing a Powerpoint presentation (homework) on how the Internet can be integrated into my content area (foreign language instruction including English as a foreign language). In the process of researching on the Web, I found many exciting sites. The material for language instruction is awesome!

Here's some of the sites. I'll get to more later.

Google provides a page for searching for text in different languages. Your search term can be in English. Some computer systems may not be able to display the fonts required.

China Daily English Study

This site has lots of language resources. Techniques, articles
games, quizzes and more.

CNN site with stories including audio, a transcript, and several quiz types. Also an area to answer questions and share with other students. There is a variety of subject matter and this would seem great for content-based study.

Graham Stanley's EFL Blog

Sunday, February 15, 2004
Syndicating Part 2

My blog is syndicated but BottomFeeder doesn't want to read it correctly. I'm not sure if it's a compatibility problem or a configuration problem.

If you do play with a news/blog reader, my feed is at


Blogger will allow a "feed." The feed lets subscribers know when you've posted a new blog.

This is RSS and Theresa mentioned it in our first class. RSS stands for (a) RDF Site Summary (and RDF stands for Resource Description Format) or (b) Really Simple Syndication. (Pick one.)

It's the standard that provides the syndication capability for blogs.

To subscribe to a feed, you need some software. I had trouble finding something compatible with my Mac OS X system. Newsmonster sounded good and is supposed to work on OS X with Netscape 7 but it didn't work here. I ended up with BottomFeeder. It's free and also available for Windows. Newsmonster is also free and likely works better on MS Windows systems than on Macs.

BottomFeeder's documentation leaves a lot to be desired. After a couple of hours, I finally feel I have some idea of how it works.

It comes with sample feeds and you can add your own. A good place to look for feeds is Syndic8.

BottomFeeder checks feeds hourly (you can adjust that) and lets you know if there is a new post at the sites in your subscription list. You can click on the listing and see the first sentence or so and decide if you want to read the whole article. You can then read it in BottomFeeder or have BottomFeeder send the link to your browser.

I am trying to syndicate my blog. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 12, 2004
Blogging Along

I started by reading blogs at Click 'Search' for Username (leave the text box blank) and you will get a random blog. I got teen blogs including Cyrillic teen blogs out of Russia.

Wow. Teen life exposed. Was this my life at thirteen (sixteen, eighteen, whatever)? I certainly didn't have a way to tell the world about it.

With all the teen action, I was a somewhat nervous about posting to livejournal. Are you judged by the company you keep?

I did learn a new acronym for chats: STFU. I'll let the reader find meaning for it.

Still blog trolling. It's a fascinating world. You are peeking into people's lives. ("I think I'll stay home from school today. Can't wait to see Max tonight. I wish my dad would leave me alone.") It's eerie.

I have found William Gibson's blog. He is the author of Neuromancer along with a slew of other books. One of my favorite authors.

He writes about blogging compared to writing a novel.

Technorati says it is watching 1,678,635 weblogs. Here you can see the Top 100 blogs, ranked by blogs that link to the site. There are some familiar faces here like Slashdot and the DrudgeReport.

I seek a site to blog from. I checked and Finally I stumbled on I realized I had visited here before in the early days of blogging but I never created a blog. Well here it is.

I've decided to host at my own site ( I think you could host at your U of M Web space if you want. The advantage of hosting off the blog site itself is no advertisements.

Blog Tips

Use a text editor and then copy-paste to your blog. At at least, it's a two or three step process to save your draft.

In terms of our class - CI5361 -- I plan on using this blog to brainstorm ideas and to report on my own WebQuests for knowledge. I hope to not spend a lot of time editing to make it sound better. But I do hope it's of interest to the rest of you as we continue with the class. If it's not, don't tell me.

Blogs in Education

Google it! "Blogs in Education" gives me (University of Houston) where it emphatically states that "The use of blogs in instructional settings is limited only by your imagination." So there you have it. (This site has some good links and info about blogs and education.)

Blogs can be used for HTML-less publishing, it also says. I really like that idea. Publishing a Web site (as we will all soon discover) is painful. I don't think there is any really easy way to do it and no tool that is simple to use. So why not blog?

A teacher can provide information for the class with a blog along with links to other sites on the Web. Some blog sites allow you to display pictures.

The blog structure would allow for posting as you find the information. This is so much easier with blogs than with Web sites.

Collaborative Blogging

In upper grades, a collaborative blog could be established with both students and teachers posting to the same blog and sharing knowledge and findings. It would be nice for this blog to allow separate user names and passwords for all posters but I don't know if that's available in a free format. Most blogs can be private and allow only who you want to allow.

A collaborative blog would be a useful tool in team learning projects to manage knowledge. Sort of a free form data base. Keep all your links and notes in one place. Teachers could check on team progress from time to time and teams could share with other teams.

(Check for more on collaborative blogs.)

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