Friday, March 20, 2009

Dancing the technolgy shuffle

Some days I feel we take two steps forward and one back. But then I remind myself that at least we're moving forward...mostly.

The Drop In is nearly complete, although we've been having some trouble with permissions when the kids work together. They forget to mark things properly or two different people will put two different scripts into one object and that will goof up the previously set perms. I think we're set now, though. They really have learned so much doing this.

For the next projects we're working on, I'm making them do a LOT of outside work first. They'll be out of world for the next week or two as they make their plans and drawings -- and get my approval -- before they go inworld and create. That, however, has lead to another glitch in our technology. To wit:

One of the greatest resources, the SL wiki, wasn't open to them; it was blocked and we lost a period while we got that open (because we meet so early in the morning, no one is around who can take care of these matters immediately. Step backward). But now that it’s open, two of my girls want to create clothing and they got on the SL wiki and found all the tutorials. Great – two steps forward.

They need to download the templates for the clothing. But our Internet blocker doesn’t allow students to download anything. Step backward. I download them onto my computer and tell them I’ll post them to the class wiki. Except when I try to, they won’t go. They’ll upload, but then corrupt when I try to post them on the page. Step to the side – and back.

Today I get the bright idea that I’ll email the file to them both. But neither have a school email. I can email it to their home accounts, but then they won’t have it at school and neither can get SL at home. Stuck in place.

They both now have applied for school email accounts. I’m also going to try putting the file on a jump drive and have them copy it to their own drives. But that’s a job for tomorrow. In the meantime, the enthusiasm they had for this project has been dampened with frustration of what should have been a fairly simple task: go to the SL wiki, download the templates and begin to learn how to use them. An entire week gone.

The two have been putting their time to good use, though and probably aren’t as frustrated as I am. I want things to work right the first time and when they don’t and I have to wait for others because I can’t fix it myself, I tend to get impatient. The girls, knowing they have no power over this at all, simply adjusted and went out to research clothing ideas so when they DO get the templates they need, they’ll be ready. Nothing needs to be done in any particular order, as long as the task gets done.

Which, now that I think on it, is actually a good skill to be teaching them. The ability to adjust and try again in the face of frustration is something we all need to deal with in real life. Perhaps I can learn something from my students…

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Drop In Lessons

Things I've learned working with the kids on The Drop In:

1) make sure they have a specific plan before beginning. This means NO BUILDING at ALL until they've run the plans by me. We've had several false starts by groups who didn't have a clear idea of what they needed to accomplish. One group needed several starts and I'm not entirely sure even now that they understand their task.

2) have the plan in writing. I had them develop the idea on the wiki and, for the most part, went with their general outline. Mistake on my part. While two of the four groups could self-direct themselves, one "group" ended up with only one person doing all the work and the other group has been lackadaisical at best, mostly because I truly think they didn't (and don't)understand the task.

And by in writing, I mean -- on graph paper. We need to have discussions before hand about where single prims can do the work of many. I will make an attempt to clean up the prim usage once I have all the pieces, but to be honest, planning ahead would have saved a LOT of work.

3) All posters need to be approved BEFORE they are uploaded into SL. I actually had that rule set before, however, some followed that rule, some didn't. Those that didn't ended up with posters that didn't work (font too small, colors that didn't match, etc).

4) Set the number of prims allowed beforehand. We decided partway through on what the limit should be and by that point, one group was already over.

More to come...