Blogging… with manipulatives!

Wow, this seemingly irrelevant prompt for class sure got me going…

Describe a manipulative activity for your ASSURE project that can be augmented by a virtual activity, or vice versa. (chapter 9)

Smaldino et al (2005) provides a detailed overview of manipulatives, including discussions of real objects (including modifications such as cutaways, speciments, and exhibits, p. 214), models ("three dimension representations of real objects", p. 215), and mock-ups (simplified representations of complex devices", p. 215). However, with respect to responding to this prompt, I found the most inspiration in their discussion of computer programs and manipulatives, in which they suggested that "hands on materials included with computer software packages" might be "the best of both worlds" (p. 216).

At first it seemed it might be difficult to include hands on manipulatives other than a computer keyboard and mouse when teaching a class on blogging, RSS, and other read/write web services. However, after a few moments of thought a few related technologies which might require more full body participation came to mind.

Most blogs, including MSN Spaces and Google’s blogger allow photoblogging, or the posting of photos on one’s blog. Flickr, another read/write service that will be covered in the class, is all about sharing photos online. Participants could take pictures of their classes or projects to blog about them.

I am also very interested in podcasting (named for Apple’s seemingly ubiquitous iPod), which is a more sophisticated method of posting audio content through a blog in order for the audience to download it to their personal digital music player and take it with them to listen to when reading is not convenient or when text is not a rich enough medium. Participants could use an iPod (with an iTalk for recording) to record their classes or projects and add this to their blogs and feeds as well.

Both digital cameras and iPods (w/ iTalks for recording) are portable and allow engaging physical interaction with the device.

Also, though it is a higher bandwidth publication medium, vodcasting (sounds like podcasting and means video-on-demand ‘casting) is catching on, too, so participants could use digital video cameras to capture just about any real world event, and then add it to their blog and RSS feed.

However, this felt too easy, so I gave it a bit more thought… and through these devices, nearly any other manipulative could become part of a blog. Real objects, models, mock ups, and performances of all kinds could be photographed, recorded, or "filmed." This is not much of an intellectual leap either, but it represents the true power and ease of blogging as a means of personalized publishing. Imagine what teachers and students could do with just an average digital camera and a free blog. Imagine the power of the class blog in terms of reaching an audience, and in terms of the potential of involving parents in the class in a way never before possible. Imagine mom or dad at work when their RSS reader pings, they steal a moment to click on the new link and watch a 90 second video of their student’s latest history presentation… and then post an encouraging comment before taking another sip of coffee and returning to work! And talk about portable, accessible, and re-playable performances for assessment purposes!

I guess I should stop when I digress to sentence fragments.

At any rate, I suppose some might see this as a nightmare scenario, but boy do I want to connect all the dots on this project…


Smaldino, S., Russell, J., Heinich, R., Molenda, M. (2005). Instructional technology and media for learning. (Eighth ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall