Author Archives: saramkirk

Summary of “YouTube across the Disciplines”

For several years, I have been a vocal supportive of the use of YouTube for educational purposes. Simply put, I think YouTube is an amazing resource. It is easy to use, free of cost, and widely accessible. It is a web resource that allows free information sharing; if a person is interested has knowledge or skills to share, he or she can post a video. It’s a resource for people to learn a wide variety of things; a person can learn math problems, learn to play an instrument, take an educational tour through space, or even do yoga in their living room.

In addition to being a great resource for individuals, YouTube is also extremely beneficial when used in the classroom. “One of the obvious benefits of using YouTube in education is that it provides online access to vast quantities of free public video on a broad spectrum of topics” (Snelson, 2011, p. 159). In my opinion, the use of YouTube in the classroom is especially important. It has the potential to equalize education between high-income and low-income school districts. Textbooks and printed materials are expensive, and in a lot of low-income districts their materials are out-of-date. YouTube can be used as an educational tool in the classroom to provide information or lessons that are current and outside the range of material accessible in low-income classrooms. These lessons can be pertinent to student interests and interactive; “educators may create interactive video games, simulations, or tutorials by linking videos together through the Annotations tool on YouTube” (Snelson, 2011, p. 160). As well as teaching lessons and providing an interactive educational platform, YouTube can also be used to promote diversity and an understanding and appreciation for other cultures. YouTube videos are posted every day showing the lives and experiences of users across the globe.


Snelson, C. 2011. YouTube across the Disciplines: A review of the literature. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, (7, 1), p. 159-169.


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Web 2.0 in the classroom

In the last decade, the use of web technologies in education has increased rapidly. It started with the use of email and websites displaying class information, and it has now evolved into using web resources as a part of teaching lessons. An example of this evolution into the use of web resources as instructional tools is Web 2.0. Web 2.0, sometimes referred to as the “red/write Web” is a type of web technology that “provides online users with interactive services, in which they have control over their own data and information” (Haya and Hartshorne, 2008, p. 71). Wikis, blogs, Skype, and Diigo are all examples of this type of technology. This primarily free resources are becoming increasingly popular in the classroom; “Web 2.0 has emerged with the potential to further enhance the teaching and learning environment in education” (Haya and Hartshorne, 2008, p. 71).
In addition to being a vast resource with a minimal cost, Web 2.0 technologies are great for the classroom, because they are resources that students find interesting and enjoy using. Wikis and blogs are tools that students are already using in their free time, so it makes sense to capitalize on an area where students are already self-motivated and integrate these resources into education. “With Web 2.0, students no longer access the web only for course information; instead the access and create collective knowledge through social interactions” (Haya and Hartshorne, 2008, p. 71).
Educators can use Web 2.0 technologies for many different purposes in the classroom. They tools can be used to teach information, facilitate group work, create an interactive class website where students can provide feedback and invest their time, provide a free source for student publication, and even as a way for parents to stay connected to their children’s classrooms.



Haya, A., and Hartshrone, R. (2008). Investigating faculty decisions to adopt Web 2.0 technologies: Theory and empirical tests. Internet and Higher Education, 11, p. 71-80.

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Summary of “Blogging for Enhanced Teaching and Learning”

In researching the use of web technologies in classrooms, I was interested in learning about the benefits of blogging in teaching and learning. While I have experience using blogs in my personal life, I have never really had to use them in an academic setting. However, it seemed clear to me that the use of blogging in education would be a really productive and cost-effective tool to use in a classroom. In reading the article “Blogging for Enhanced Teaching and Learning”, I found that my assumptions were supported. Within the article, author Marie Flatley brought up several major benefits of blogging in education. After testing out the use of blogging in her own classroom, she discovered that blogs are free and easily accessible, they facilitate group work and promote collaboration, and they encourage student-centered learning.
Anyone with access to a computer and to the internet can participate in a blog. They are free, relatively easy to sign up for, and they come with user-friendly instructions on how to get started blogging. “Since a basic blog is free and can be set up in less than 5 minutes, using them for both teaching and learning has low cost and high return on investment” (Flatley, 2004, p. 78). In addition to being easy to use, another benefit of blogging is the accessibility. The great thing about utilizing a blog for classwork means that students are not limited to a classroom or a traditional homework or educational setting. Flatley witnessed in her own classroom that students were “using the tool to work on their project together but in anytime and anyplace mode” (2004, p. 78). Students are given the opportunity to work outside of class, while still having access to all of the educational materials needed for a specific project.
As well as being accessible, blogging is a great method of promoting group work and collaboration. Flatley states that blogging is an “excellent tool to support group work” (2004, p. 78). With the implementation of blogging into group work, students can work together, share ideas, and provide feedback inside and outside of the classroom. Blogs “help students share ideas more effectively and manage their time more efficiently” (Flatley, 2004, p. 78). Using this type of web technology allows students to ask questions and provide feedback in a non-threatening manner. Since most of the correspondence and feedback is done through written work on the blog, students also continue to improve their writing skills. In reflection of the use of blogging for group projects in her own class, Flatley found that, “when one member asked for help or suggestions, others readily stepped up in a cooperative rather than antagonistic manner” (2004, p. 79).
Another important benefit of blogging in education is the fact that it encourages student-centered learning. The use of web technologies allows students to learn how to manage their time and to self-motivate. Students in Flatley’s class “reported that the use of the blog enhanced their motivation” (2004, p. 79). The more self-motivated students are, the less time it requires for a teacher to continuously remind students to do their work. This, in turn, frees up time for the teacher to be more accessible to student needs within the classroom.


Flatley, Marie E. (2004). Blogging for Enhanced Teaching and Learning. Business Communication      Quarterly, Vol. 68, Issue 1, p 77-80. Retrieve from:


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Intro Post

Hey everyone!

I am excited to finally get started with this! I have some blogging experience (I run a craft blog on tumblr), but I have never had to blog for class before. I am interested to see how this type of technology is used as an educational platform!

Currently, I am working towards a K-12 license in Visual Arts. I have a BFA in studio arts/photography from the University of Iowa, and I have been interested in teaching for several years. However, I have been putting off actually completing a licensure program until now. The lack of arts funding in the public school system is not very good for motivation. But, I am happy I finally decided to commit. Growing up, art was sort of like my safe haven in the emotional, awkward, transitional landscape known as high school. Stepping behind the camera or in front of a canvas, gave me what I felt like was a fearless shield with which to face the world. Even if it meant walking around all day with black charcoal smudges on my face or paint flecks in my hair. I just hope that I can take some of the love that I have for art classrooms and pass that along to my students.

Outside of school, I work at the University of Minnesota at the Department of Epidemiology and Community Health on a grant-funded project with local bars and restaurants. I also brew beer and play a lot of bingo.



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