Friday, July 13, 2007

Using Wikis for Relevant Resources

In thinking about how science teachers can make instruction of middle school topics, I ran across the site. The site has many useable videos. However, when I searched the web for topics like plant cells, or chemical change, I keep getting YouTube references. I have used YouTube in my classroom, but found that after students played the video clip, they wanted to immediately search for Rap, wrestling, or anything to "entertain" them. YouTube does a great job keeping middle school students, and adults, clicking on their site. Clicks equal revenue for YouTube and I understand all that.

I found a neat little trick when embedding YouTube clips. It customizes the embedded clip. After making your selection, copy and paste the embed code above. The code changes based on your selection. Select "Don't include related videos." This trick lets the video play and then when the clip ends, other "related" links do not appear. This takes a couple of extra steps, but it well worth the effort when trying to keep my students on-task. I thought about using the online sites that convert YouTube video, but that takes hours and lots of storage space.

How will students relate to the videos and are the concepts they show verified for authenticity? What strategies did I use to evaluate the information?

On-line sources such as radio archives can turn up news stories that you can play using streamed audio players. Listening to a speech by a major science figure can provide nuance and context missing in printed accounts. Streamed video make it possible to watch television newscasts and documentaries archived on-line. Chat can be a frustrating and uneven tool, but used properly, it can help you find tips or even quotes relating to a story.

In looking at YouTube and trying to evaluating a clip, I used this basic strategy. Hypertext establishes links to banks of information, leading to the assumption that ideas are always backed by evidence. But a hypertext discussion can be manipulated by the choice of those links. What appear to be inevitable connections to related facts are actually *choices* made by page designers and video producers whose views are reflected in their selection of links and scenes. A key component of digital literacy is wariness. The links that are missing from a web page or video clip can tell you as much about the author's intentions as the links that are present. Notice whether the links made available point both to other sites as well as to the site you're looking at; if they're all inward pointing, you may want to ask why the site's developers haven't chosen to contrast their work with the ideas of others. I also used the North Carolina Standard Course of Study and searched YouTube, TeacherTube, and other sites using keywords from the objects.

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