A Reflection: My First Glogster Project

Trying a new lesson, new teaching method, or integrating a new piece of technology can be stressful. Thanks to my Twitter feed, I discovered GlogsterEDU earlier this year.    A Glog is an online multimedia poster.  This post is going to reflect on my first experience using Glogster.  There were a lot of positive aspects of this project for both my students and for me, but there were also a few road bumps that made caused a little frustration.

Planning the Project

If you are unfamiliar with my blog, I am relatively new to the world of educational technology.  Up until this school year, I was hesitant to incorporate much technology into my lesson plans.  After discovering the power of Twitter over the summer, I began incorporating technology whenever I could justify it.  One place I was sure I wanted to incorporate some sort of technology was my research unit.  Typically, I have students use the internet, library books, and online databases to conduct research over a historical figure or celebrity of interest.  Then we go to class and create a poster that discusses the students' findings.  I knew that this would be an easy unit to incorporate technology into, but  I wasn't sure which Web 2.0 tool to use.  After debating over PowerPoint and Prezi, I discovered GlogsterEDU and was sold.  Glogster would allow my students to complete an almost identical project while gaining exposure to technology they may not have been familiar with. After I discovered GlogsterEDU, I immediately created an account and made a few Glogs to get myself familiar with the site.  After making my first Glog, I was sold!

Student Reaction to the Project


Most of my students were excited to hear that we would be doing something different than they are used to for this project.  The day before the students started working on their Glogs, I showed them a Glog that I had made and gave them a quick overview of Glogster's features.  To my surprise, a few students asked if they could write an essay in lieu of creating a Glog, but after further questioning, all but one of those students were trying to avoid an oral presentation.

My First Mistake: The Password Predicament

Before I started this project I had to decide whether to pay for the premium version of GlogsterEDU for my 165 students or have each student create their own Glogster account.  I chose the later, but in hindsight, I wish I would have spent the money (at the time it was about $15 for a one month membership).  This turned out to be my biggest regret of the entire project.

One common statement that comes from teachers is "Our students know so much more about computers than we do."  Earlier this year I learned that, for my students at least, this statement couldn't be further from the truth.  I have some students who don't know how to add attachments to emails and others who haven't logged on to their email in so long that they forgot the password.  It has become apparent to me that my students aren't tech savvy; they are merely Facebook savvy.

With that being said, I had several students who forgot their passwords.  Had I realized how big of a headache this was going to be, I would have happily paid for the GlogsterEDU premium membership to keep a few students from having to start their project over on multiple occasions.

Completion Time

While attending the Midwest Educational Technology Conference earlier this year, one presenter said that during a project, no more than 40% of the total project time should be spent creating the final product.  I tried to keep this in mind when deciding how much time to give my students to work in the library media center on their Glogs. I decided that three days would be appropriate.  To be honest, I'm not quite sure how I came up with three days.  I thought that would be enough time for my students to get comfortable with the program, find appropriate images, and transfer information from their notes to their Glogs.  As the due date approached, it seemed like most students were going to be ready to present, but on the first day of presentations there were a number of students whose Glogs weren't ready.  I was frustrated because this was something they could work on at home in addition to the time we had in the library (this is the beauty of Web 2.0 tools, right?).  In retrospect, I probably should have given them one more day to complete and perfect their Glogs.


Presentations

Every year I have my students present their research to the class.  In years past, my students have presented and talked about the posters they created and I was able to hold on to the poster to grade it.  I continued the tradition this year of having students present their projects.  Much like creating the Glogs, the presentations took a little longer than I anticipated. This happened for a few reasons:  1.  It takes time for students to log on to their Glogster account and pull up their projects.  2.  Some students forgot their passwords (again...) and had to try a few times to get logged on.  3.  After each student presented their Glog, I had them copy the URL to a Google Doc I made so that I could review the Glogs.  This turned out to be one of the most beneficial things I did throughout the entire project.  Saving student work to use as examples is always good.  But, with digital projects such as this one, the student examples could be easy to lose.  Since they are now saved "in the cloud" all I will have to do next year is look for a good Glog and a not-so-good Glog to share with my students.  

Student Reflections

I am a firm believer in reflection.  It is one of the main reasons I started to blog.  After finishing the Glogster project, I had each of my students fill out a reflection over the project.  Here are two of my questions and some student responses:

What advantages or disadvantages did using Glogster as your presentation tool have over making a poster?
  • Very customizable
  • Easy to use
  •  I didn't have to worry about printing pictures or sloppy writing.
  • It was free - I didn't have to but a poster board.
  • It kept me motivated.
  • The Glog was too small.
  • I didn't have to worry about messing up and starting over.

Why do you think it is important (or not important) for teachers to incorporate technology into their lesson plans?  

  • I think it is important because in college and the future we are going to use technology for a lot of projects/school work.  If we don’t learn now, when are we going to?
  • Technology is the way of life these days.  You can do more with it.   
  • Technology is never going away.
  • Technology is evolving and soon paper and pencil won't be needed.  Schools should take advantage of this technology.
  • It's important for us to learn differently sometimes.  
 Final Thoughts

Overall, I was very happy with the results of the Glogster project.  There were definitely a few surprises during the learning process, but I was able to overcome the obstacles and based on my students' reflections, I'm glad that I took a risk and tried something new instead of the same learning activity I have used in the past.  The students were able to try something that was totally new to them and not only did they learn the research skills I taught, but also they learned new ways to use technology.  With that being said, I consider this project a huge success. 

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