Saturday, November 27, 2010

Response: Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction

I have definitely a lot in common with Vishal. Although Vishal does something constructive, like filmmaking instead of doing his homework, I manage to do nothing valuable. Vishal is not a unique case.  Every teen with computer or other entertainment access is distracted from doing school work. Like how teens get distracted from social networks, instant messaging software, tv, and video games today, a decade ago, teens were distracted by other forms of entertainment i.e. board games, tv, playing amongst friends.  Similar to all other teens, I also have trouble disconnecting from the digital world. Although lately I have stopped playing a lot of video games, I have gotten obsessed with instant messaging and social networks. Instead of finishing homework quickly, I spend majority of my time socializing, waiting for the last moment to start my homework. This obviously has a big negative impact on my grades. By leaving my homework till night time, I complete it with my mind being half asleep. This causes my assignment to be completed with not all my effort and potential, and thus a lower grade than what I would want it to be.

With all the software and social networks on the internet these days, I believe it definitely amplifies my personality. I am able to catch up with old friends, get closer with some of my friends and even make new friends. With technology having some negative impact on my life, it has its positives too. I am able to explore what I would like to do in the future using various tools on the internet. It also makes it much easier for me to read more and start viewing different aspects of life from different perspectives.

In my opinion, gaming can affect sleeping patterns in certain cases. I was an obsessed gamer ever since my teenage years began till last year. Gaming never really affected my sleeping pattern unless or until I played late at night, ruining my sleeping cycle. As far as ability to retain information, it was never really a problem. In fact, with the MMO games that I played, I actually expanded my vocabulary and developed a greater general knowledge. Thus, just saying that gaming affects sleep patterns and ability to retain information is incorrect. It depends on the game and how many hours an individual is playing. Sure, if an individual was playing a shooting game for hours past midnight, their ability to retain information and sleeping cycle would be disrupted.

Using technology most of the times does not involve physical or healthy activity. Alan Eaton definitely has a point when he says that technology has led to a “balkanization of their focus and duration of stamina.” A great chunk of teens spend a significant amount of time using technology, which in result costs them their health. When one is on the computer for quite some time, the duration of their stamina goes down due to the lack of exercise.  They also start losing focus on other things as they are too much concentrated and distracted from technology.

The cost of technology definitely has more benefits than disadvantages. In fact, technology is taken for granted and its only negative impacts are highlighted in our society. Using technology we can research, interact with the community, entertain ourselves etc. If it’s overused and abused, then is when it makes a negative impact. Too much of everything is not good for you. The schools should be embracing more technology in the curriculum as it is efficient, convenient and interests a lot of teens.

The students in this article are depictions of regular average teenage life. Almost every teen is distracted by entertainment that can be extracted from technology. It is human nature to do something that interests you. In a life of a teenager, social networking and other entertainment sources are much more interesting than school course work.  The author of the article seems to have done good research to grasp the use of technology among teenagers. His points are valid as this response took me 3 hours to write thanks to Facebook and Msn.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Interview Summary

Mr Carpenter visited my group (Ariel, Ilnar and I) on Tuesday with information about the Geography ISP that we had to remap for him. He provided us with a sample ISP that he wanted us to tweak by integrating technology in the project.
The ISP focused on the push and pull factors of emigration. Mr. Carpenter emphasized the use of Google Earth in this project, along with other webtools that we would have to research. After the interview, we found Wolfram Alpha, Gapminder and Google Earth as the software/webtools of choice that the students would have to work on. Wolfram Alpha would be used for the general statistics, gapminder for trends in various aspects (GDP, birth/death rate), and Google Earth to put it all together using notes and kmz files.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Placement Update

1) What did you accomplish last week in your placements?

Last week, our whole geography group met with Mr. Carpenter to find out what we had to do. After learning that we were remapping the Gr9 ISP regarding the "Push and pull factors of emmigration", we divided the whole group into smaller groups. Abdul and I chose to find out who Wolfram Alpha would be helpful with this assignment.

2) What do you need to do this week?

This week, Abdul and I need to find more things that Grade 9 Geography students would be able to extract from the Wolfram Alpha website. Currently, we have: Population density, GDP and unemployment rate. After we have researched enough information that they could find on the website, we will join our parts with other groups who are researching Gapmind and Google Earth. I hope Mr. Carpenter will like our remapped version of the Geography ISP.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


1.            I personally believe I would be best at learning new pieces of software and teaching teachers and students how to use technology and software. I have always been a computer and programming person and thus, learning new software is not only my strength, but also something I enjoy doing. I am patient and learn quickly which would help me figure out different software efficiently. In addition, I personally download and try to play around with new software at home, which makes me experienced with a lot of software.

                 After learning the software myself, I would be able to teach teachers and students how to use it too.  With my experience in computers, I believe that I can grasp key concepts of a program really fast and have no trouble in explaining others how to do so. Also, by October 27th, I will have more experience in this field as I am, along with a friend, teaching students how to use Google Sketchup. I am also very patient, understanding and thorough, which would help me succeed in teaching students and teachers any software.

                Out of the choices given, finding online resources for teachers would not be a good fit for me.  I am more of an application person, and do not enjoy too much work. I like to finish my assignments fast and efficiently. I cannot stand staring at a computer, doing research for other software that might benefit the teachers or students.

2.  -Creativity 7: As far as creative thinking, I believe I can come up with some interesting ideas that would benefit the school. However, I am not creative at ALL when it comes to creative arts (visual arts/drawing).
-Responsibility 9: I believe, and have been told by my peers and parents, that I am very responsible. I do as I say, get my work done before due dates and make sure that I work efficiently.
-Web Design 7: I do not have too much experience with web design, however, I still have some knowledge and can do the backbone (programming) part of the website. The front end (templates on photoshop), I would be terrible as I lack creativity in terms of visual arts.
-Developing action plans 9: I am very organized and know what to do in times of trouble. I try to keep track of what and when things are happening.
-Teach other people 9: I have a lot of experience with teaching others. I also tutor outside of school for volunteering purposes
-Meeting Deadlines 10: I make sure I complete everything on time-no matter what it takes.

3. I am very comfortable with leading a group as I believe I am not a follower.

4. I would prefer to work in a group as I believe everything just works better that way. There could be an equal distribution of the workload and would be easy to track how everyone is doing. On the other hand, in a team, not everyone does equal work and it is hard to keep track of everyone. Working alone gives maximum workload.

5. I am most comfortable in Engineering and Programming (not on the list). On the list however, I am most comfortable with Geography, media and English. I am not comfortable with Biology and Business as I have not taken the courses, and History as I have no interest in that course.

Re-evaluation with conclusion!

I think I should definitely try to pursue my idea. As Akiva and Jina mentioned, all that has to be done in order to implement my idea is get the netbooks in the right classes. This is possible in the next 3 months as we would just have to transport the netbooks using the cart. As far as learning Sketchup, I am sure IDC students or some students would be able to figure it out themselves. If not, we could provide them with tutorial links or perhaps train the teacher first. This goes for all the software- not only Sketchup.

            Initially, I would like the Social Sciences / Geography department to consider my idea. Ms. Gourley, Ms. Lee, or Ms. Papernick would be the teachers that I would like to hear me out. These teachers would be able to incorporate my idea with the curriculum as most of Geography class is based on mapping, presentations and projects. With the help of the software that I recommended, students would be able to excel in the course and develop interest in the course- if they haven’t already.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Enriching Technology Post!

I have always taken courses throughout my high school year in which I was required to perform a task on pencil and paper. Having terrible handwriting and no artistic abilities at all, I hoped that one day, everything would done using computer technology. However, I personally wasn't aware of the vast internet and technological tools we have present in our society and thus always ended up doing my work on paper. I believe that if students start using the technology available to them efficiently, not only would it benefit their education, but also the society as a whole.

Idea:  Get the netbooks in each class with the proper software installed (Showing how to do a project that was done without technology, with technology).
Subject Area: Mainly social sciences and technology classes.
Details:  Each class would be allowed to share/use net books in order for them to finish their task efficiently.

Let's take for an example, a Geography project that I had to do :
1)Research a structure (i.e. the CN Tower)
2)Build a model of the structure 
3)Write a written report on the specifications of the structure.
4) Make a short presentation of the structure.

Technology needed: Netbooks, right following software installed.

These are the possible software that could be used to finish off the given task: 

For part 1) Research a structure:

Learn 360:  This web-tool would be perfect for the research part of this assignment. Learn 360 offers various legitimate sources that could be used to find about the specifications of different structures.In this case, the student would just search "CN Tower" in the search bar of Learn 360 and get all verified information.

Google Earth: Google Earth can also be a great software for the preliminary research for this project. The students could maneuver to the structure, observe its physical attributes and get some general information conveniently, by just using a netbook. In this case, the student would be able to grab all the information for the CN Tower and know how it looks like without physically going to CN Tower itself.

Diigo: Diigo will allow students to highlight and bookmark pages they think are appropriate for their written report. This way, the students would not forget what information they thought was useful, and prepare a very good paper. In this case, the students could research the web about the CN Tower, and bookmark as well as highlight information they think is relevant.

For part 2) Build a model of the structure:

Google Sketchup: The Sketchup program is great for creating and visualizing 3D objects. With the help of this software, students like me, who are not very good with paper & pencil, as well as visualizing, will benefit. They would be able to create the 3D structure of the CN Tower in this case, and then further create what they planned with ease.

For part 3) Write a written report on the specifications of the structure:

Google Docs: Google Docs is a great program for a group of students to work on a report simultaneously. To write the report and save all that time sending each other their parts to edit, they can use this software. This will allow them all to work on the same report online, which has each version of the file automatically saved. In this case, each group member would log on to the Google Docs sessions and work together to write the report on the CN Tower.

xTimeline: Timeline is a great tool that helps organize the important events of a historical or general thing. In this case, timeline could be used to portray the steps to creation of the CN Tower.

For part 4) Presentation:

Prezi: Prezi is a great presentation tool that captures the audience's interest. It is a very easy tool to use and would create a presentation for the student(s) , others would enjoy. In this case, the students would put all their research information about the CN Tower on their Prezi and would impress both their fellow classmates, as well as their teachers.

Voice Thread: Voice Thread would be very helpful for some students who would like more practice to present to the class. The web-tool basically creates a group conversation around a document/video. This would allow students to be well prepared for the presentation, as they would know the order of things, and would have practice online using the Voice Thread tool.

Jing: Jing is a software used to capture on video, what one is doing on the computer. Students could use this tool to present more complex examples that they might not be comfortable with presenting in person, and/or show a demonstration. In this case, students could use Jing to capture the technical specifications of the CN Tower, and wouldn't have to memorize them.

Out of all the possible software, the recommended ones would be:
Learn 360, Sketchup and Prezi. Learn 360 could be used to research and find all the information about the structure. Sketchup would be able to design and visualize the 3D structure, and Prezi would be able to attract the audience during the presentation. At the end, the student could hand in the report using dropbox.

-Allows for in depth research.
-Better for students who are not good with pencil and paper.
-Presentations would be much more interesting and everyone would pay attention.
-Convenient/ Efficient.
-Proper sources would be used.
-Allows students to access materials outside of class.
-Students can all perform their task at once.

-Students would be distracted and would go off task.
-Will not help students reach their potential creativity.
-Some students might pull "pranks" on google docs.
-Manging netbooks would require effort and money.

What Needs to Happen to Make the Idea Work – Who is Responsible
  1. Get netbooks to the class with the right software installed. (Students themselves can download and install the right software. The teacher would be able to hand them out).
  2. Net Support must be installed so that students would not slack off. (Teacher or a volunteer can install the software on the netbooks)
  3. Teachers must have a dropbox account to collect the assignments.
  4. Have enough netbooks!


In conclusion, if I were to do my Geography project using technology, I would have finish efficiently and with a better mark. This is an example of how a project that was done using minimal technology, can be done using ONLY technology and produce better results. I hope that our school can actually get the netbooks out to different classes in order for them to incorporate them with the curriculum.

    Saturday, October 16, 2010

    Google Sketchup

    Google Sketchup

    What it does?

    -Draw 3D and/or 2D models of anything
    -Allows users to visualize real life 3D structures
    -Download 3D models of buildings and other standing structures off of Google Earth.

    What is it useful for?

    -Analyzing and visualizing 3D objects before creating them
    -Student projects.
    -Researching 3D structures.
    -Can give students a better perspective of 3D objects
    -Useful for students who have trouble drawing and picturing 3D objects on paper

    How could it be used in the classroom?

    -Tech teachers could show different viewpoints of a structure.
    -Architecture and woodshop class would be able to use Sketchup for their structure plan, before actually getting to work.
    -Art class could use the program for visualizing 3D drawings.

    link to the website:


    -Very good for students who do not like to work with paper and pencil.
    -General features are very easy to use.
    -Takes very little memory as well as disk space to use.
    -Free version has all the features a student might want.
    -Improves creativity.
    -Gives user a better perspective of 3D structures.
    -Allows users to import structures from Google Earth to study them.

    -Have to download and install- not a web tool.
    -More advanced features might be hard to use.
    -Pro version costs $495.
    -Only tech. and architecture classes would benefit from this program.
    -Might be a distraction to kids as they might play around with other features that might be irrelevant to their assigned task.

    Suggestions for Educational Users

    Upon downloading and installing Google Sketchup, it is recommended to play around with it for a couple of days. This will get the user used to how the tools work and when to use them. I would personally recommend this program to anyone in architecture, woodshop or any art class. I believe this is a great program for making plans. Personally, I am terrible at drawing on paper, which is why Google Sketchup is the right thing for me. Make sure to check the "Push/pull" tool. That is the main tool that extends and makes everything 3D. 
    Good luck :) It's a very simple program to use, once you get used to it.

    Helpful Material

    ^ That is a great website for tutorials from beginner to expert level. You can use that website to learn from professional Google Sketchup users.
    ^ Use that website for cool tips and tricks. For example, try the Sofa Maker!
    ^Use that website to keep up to date with what Sketchup can do and how it is used everywhere!