HW-Weeks 5 - 8

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For this virtual field trip we will be learning about some general characteristics of rivers.

Above you can see the homepage of the All Along a River virtual field trip.

 As you canoe down the Rhine River you'll want to know about the wonderful topic of erosion!!! Isn't that  a major reason you came to Germany??!! After a nice beer or glass of wine you can enjoy avoiding some of the most toxic silt on Earth!! Enjoy your boating experience!! 

 Here you can clearly see that all is not lost to pollution on the Rhine. In fact, there a many beautiful long stretches of this historical river that have been cleaned up or, for that matter, seem untouched. 


Week 5, Activity 2, Twitter and Learner Control

2. How does Twitter relate to the ideas about Learner Control presented in the Chapter? How can you use this technology either personally or in the classroom as an educational tool? 

I think Twitter relates somewhat poorly to the ideas about learner control presented in the chapter. After using this application for a very limited time I believe Twitter to be especially poor in the context of relating this social networking software to the ideas about learner control as a learning tool presented in the Chapter. The strict limit of 140 characters per message is a major restriction, with exceptions, to using this application for appropriate learner control according to most of the principles of Clark.

Some of the major principals of the chapter, Content Sequencing, Pacing, and Access to Learner Support, are severely limited in Twitter. Content sequencing, where learners can control the order of the lessons, topics, and screens within a lesson, is generally not available in Twitter as other people are constantly adding new posts so the user has no real control over the order of how things get presented or, to a large degree, what gets presented. The idea of Content Sequencing is available for review of any material that may have been presented in the form of Twitter allowing users to always be able to access past Tweets to reference relevant information, URLs, or other forms of information. But even using it in this manner is not the most efficient mode to learn, having to go back and search many small messages as the user tries to reference something that has been tweeted previously. Pacing, when learners can control the time spent on each lesson page, is perhaps the most evident type of learner control on Twitter but the max limit of 140 characters is kind of a joke if you are trying to read or post serious content commonly found in a class environment. Pacing through many small messages when, if you used another application, you could post much fewer messages to say the same thing. Access to Learner Support is when learners can control instructional components of lessons such as examples or practice exercises. I don’t think you hear many Twitter users saying, “Oh, that Tweet you sent me last week was great. I’ll have to go back and review the important information you listed on it.” The objectives, definitions, additional references, coaches, examples, help systems, or practice exercises (Clark, p. 292-293) would be nearly impossible to efficiently convey with Tweets and the first thing I think any user of Twitter would want to do to include such things in their class would be to refer the student to perhaps a Wiki, where you can at least write however long you would like.

I suppose there is an element of learner control by having the ability to join Lists in Twitter but, there again, the 140 character limit really makes other modes of communication more efficient, with some minor exceptions, for an educational setting. The Segmentation Principle (Clark, p. 307) may be prevalent in Twitter but 140 characters is quite small segmentation for most learners. Too much segmentation is arguably just as bad as not enough.

An important principle of learner control, making the important instructional events the default, (Clark, p. 302) to the best of my knowledge, cannot be carried out in Twitter. Although by guidance from the teacher this may be able to be somewhat ameliorated.

In my classroom (English as a Second Language, adult education) I could use it as an educational tool to teach the more computer savvy how to use social networking software but even that would be unrealistic as many of my students have very limited experience with computers or very little time or need to use a social networking application. The needs of my students would be much better served if I taught them how to use email or basic office electronic equipment such as faxes and printers.

I could use Twitter to communicate with my colleagues but why add another mode of communication to check when email, for the task of peer communication, works quite well?? 

Personally, I could use this technology to communicate with my girlfriend but that would be a stretch. I really have no desire to add another mode of communication that needs to be checked often to see if I am missing something. Phones and email are communication enough. I do not have big desires to follow people even if I like them as friends, or lovers, for that matter. If I had a child it might be a good way to keep in touch with them without being too intrusive into their daily lives. Another possible use is to touch base to see how family members are doing throughout the day. But again, that just leads to me having to check another form of communication or worry about missing something important that they may be tweeting me about.

With what little experience I have with Twitter it appears to me to offer very little learner control.


Week 5, Activity 3, Categories of Using Twitter

3. After reading the research study about Microblogging, go to the Discussion section starting on page 7/10 and flows into page 8/10. There are six categories of major uses for Twitter. After you join Twitter do one activity for each of the six points and write a paragraph about what you did and what you discovered. Relate you findings to what the researchers found. Post that paper to your Week 5 Homework page as well.

It must be emphasized that my only experience with Twitter is in the context of this class. My attitude was to take as much time as I could to use whatever features I could to see how to use  Twitter and see what features are available.

Daily Chatter

I found the daily chatter to be annoying, the vast majority of the time petty, and a little hard to follow. Similar to watching MTV. I am getting a lot of commercial Tweets from the cooking show, No Reservations, who, until just now, I had started to follow immediately after I joined Twitter for this class. It was nice to get little quick updates from the students who went to Denver. I don’t see much need for me to  know that one of my classmates just finished up a chess game. The type of information that makes up the vast majority of what I read on Twitter.

Conversations In Twitter

I found it somewhat difficult to join in a conversation and ended up talking about the British (BBC) television series, Dr. Who, with a classmate. Conversations that I tried to follow seem highly disjointed probably not helped by the fact of my inexperience with this application. I did “Reply” to someone’s Tweet but have yet to see a response, if ever they do. According to the article only about one eighth of all posts in the collection contain a conversation and this form of communication was used by almost 21% of users in the collection. (Java, 7/10) Relatively, not many people use Twitter for conversation and I think I can see why.

Sharing information/URLs

I could find this activity very useful except for the fact that some long URLs cannot work because of their length and I have to use another application to shorten the original URL to carry out this, what should be, simple task. I clicked on a link in a Tweet and discovered it was Salon, the online magazine. I prefer to know what link I’m clicking on before I click on it. I am guessing this is a byproduct of the URL shortening that you need to do to send even medium sized URLs w/ any kind of accompanying explanation of what the URL may be.

Maybe that is why only about 13% of all posts have some URL in them. (Java, 8/10)

It is nice to be able to quickly post a link to someone if you think they should check it out. 

Reporting news

I posted the list of available Twitter applications with links to download them on the Twitter page and I hope they proved useful to someone who had the time to check them out and perhaps even use them. If I was to download the necessary application to Tweet URLs of any character length I would think that Twitter could be a good application to use for this purpose. It seems to be very adept at reporting where people are and what they are doing at that moment. While this can be highly useful information at critical moments I do not find it useful information on an ongoing basis. I do see a practical use in the availability of updating weather reports or news stories from RSS feeds, short and informative posts.

Information Source

I read on a Tweet sourced link that Safeway, the supermarket chain store, is setting up fake farmer markets to get in on the recently chic buy local consumer attitudes. I cannot figure out in what part of the world that is taking place as, apparently, the author of the Tweet, KUOW News, does not want or forgot to tell us. Frustrating!! Upon further investigation I found out they were out of Washington state. If I was waiting on some critical information to be supplied by an individual I could see where Twitter may be the application for that task.


The closest things to Friends that I have on Twitter would be my fellow students in this class. I have enjoyed the information that the people who went to the conference have provided and I have checked out several of there links. I found the links to be nice to find myself reading about interesting things I can rarely find the time to read about. If I was to use Twitter more consistently I cannot imagine that I would not have sub-categories of Friends. 

Information Seeker

It seems to me that Tweeter may be a good place to post specific questions to specific people, as I have done during this class, or look for very specific information at an exact time and/or place. I cannot see where Twitter would be such a great place to look for information that might be available somewhere else where much more information about the topic probably would be more readily available. From what I’ve seen, I think most of the information posted on Twitter would not be too useful to me.


Week 6, Activity 1, Message to Author

I chose to write Professor K. F. Hew, author of, "Integrating technology into K-12 teaching and learning: current knowledge gaps and recommendations for future research". Published online December 5, 2006, in Educational Technology Research & Development

Below is my correspondence:

Hello Professor Hew,

My name is Donald Chrzan. I am a graduate student at Central Connecticut State University currently taking the EDT 598 class, Inquiry in Ed. Tech. One of my assignments is to read an article, contact the author, and ask a question or make a comment based on the author’s writing. I chose the 2006 article you did with Thomas Brush, “Integrating technology into K-12 teaching and learning: current knowledge gaps and recommendations for future research”, published online December 5, 2006.

I hope you can find the time to answer my questions.

My questions are based on your writings on page 247 of the aforementioned Educational Technology Research & Development, article, section, Type and Quality of Previous Studies:
Have you seen an improvement in the type and quality of studies of integrating technology since this article was published? If any, what are some of the improvements?

In the 4 years since your article,
Integrating technology into K-12 teaching and learning: current knowledge gaps and recommendations for future research, was published, do you believe that your suggestion of, “Mixed methods research as the type of studies needed in the future”, (p. 247) is being implemented and that the principles you suggested, listed below, are being put into practice?
1.    Future mixed methods research studies should provide a rich, thick description of the methodology (including the length of the study, number of participants, interobserver and intraobserver agreement reliability) so that findings can be adequately interpreted.
2.    Future mixed methods studies should examine teachers in actual practice through observations, and not merely rely on self-reported data.
3.    Studies should be longitudinal in nature.
4.    Future studies based on mixed methods research should expand the focus to include the examination of other stakeholders in the school such as the school administrators and leadership, as well as the broader contexts such as decision-makers outside the school.

I very much enjoyed reading your article. I’m sure your responses will enhance my class.

Thank you very much for your time and insight.


Donald S. Chrzan


Week 7, Second Life Screen Capture

Here is my avatar in Second Life on the American Library Association Main Stage on ALA Island.


I think I might want to take a course using this format in 2-4 years or so. Once it is more developed. Once you get used to it and the content develops further it could be quite unlimited. I think this virtual world is in its infancy. I visited the “Big Classroom” at U. of AZ, supposedly one of the largest, most prestigious online institutions (as far as I know), and it was totally empty, not a chair to sit in. But the building was there. I think they will fill that building with some pretty cool virtual lessons in the future but now it is quite rough. It seems like it is a work in progress, which is understandable. If this format for education was as advanced as some of the first person shoot ‘em up games I’ve (briefly) played, it would be quite impressive to participate in a nicely developed virtual class.

I agree with nfmcgee, when it is a new environment for the user, that cognitive overload could be pretty high. But the more time I spent on it, about 5 hours total, I found I got use to the navigation, even the flying, and checking things out. I right/left clicked on a lot of things at quite a few spots and nothing really useful seemed to happen. I was just building my Inventory, which would be quite useful if I was to spend time in SL. Those things that I clicked on, links, photos, movies, when they get some content, will be quite impressive to use to teach.

I think I’d have a hard time agreeing w/ misskepple and nfmcgee that using this format for education, if well developed, it may be difficult to maintain the attention of the students. The World is definitely your stage in this environment. Even beyond the World, really.


EDT 598, Week 7, Activity 1, Compare Points the Authors Raised


Week 8, Activity 5

Reflexive Essay 2

After this class I think that my original idea of research was not too far off the mark. I would refine what I said in my first reflexive essay, “If you asked me right now to define research I would reply, “The objective analytical study of a subject to prove or disprove a hypothesis.” Following this class I would repeat what I said originally and add some of the influences of and differences between descriptive and analytical research methodologies and the status of research for many of the education topics we discussed in class.

I was somewhat surprised at the apparent, as stated in several articles we read, lack of systematic analytical research and the prevalence of descriptive research but understand the relative ease in doing descriptive over analytical research. 

Acknowledging that it will always be ongoing and, hopefully, progressing, I have learned that the status of research for many of the topics we discussed is in its early stages. I can appreciate where descriptive research can provide the base for analytical research that is so important to advance any field. This foundation building may be particularly true when advancing research about new subject matter such as the educational technologies we looked at in this class.

I now know more of the characteristics of high-quality research. I have a better idea of how to recognize poor, good, and excellent research.

I learned some sources for finding good research studies, some of which I knew previously but a few which I did not know about. 

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