Monday, June 2, 2008

Thing #23

So what about the 23 things? Well, it's been an interesting journey. I've learned about some new tools, gained some information about other items and enjoyed the journey. Specifically, there are a few things that stick out for me. I've learned about wikis and how I could use them. I learned alot about Flickr and how that could be used.

The social bookmarking is interesting. I've bounced back and forth between absolutely loving it, to seeing its restrictions. It is definitely a different way of thinking and organizing. The flexibility is wonderful. However, there are also limits. One could easily end up with a ton of bookmarks that are just slightly different. One could also end up with many different bookmarks that are no longer need (right now). I'll keep playing around with it (I'm using it for a summer vacation). Interestingly, there seems to be a push back in terms of organization. Many computer geeks have been pushing a change from a hierarchical folder structure to a free form just save it and then search for it. This idea utilizes something like Google Desktop to search. Recently however, it seems as though there is some movement back to an organized saving structure. Still, I'll trying tagging but being careful of the tags that I'm using.

I really like Flickr. It's got some really cool things. It's also not blocked through work. Naturally, there are some privacy concerns about using work stuff with Flickr, but for some things it can be wonderful.

Video is another story. YouTube is blocked through work and rightfully so. In a quick search by category - Education - I ended up with some really, really inappropriate. I have no interest in YouTube. TeacherTube is much better but limited. Still, this could become a useful tool at some point.

I think back in how TV was supposed to revolutionize education. That didn't quite work out the way that was predicted. It has definitely had an effect and can be quite powerful. But it didn't work out the way that it was predicted. Could this be the same effect for technology? Some technologists have been predicting that computers would revolutionize education for over a decade. Certainly they are having an effect on our lives. How much of an impact on education will they have? They have changed how some things are done, but how much have they changed the experience of students? Are we still in the infancy phase?

So what would you add to the 23 Things experience?
I would start with Evernote. While this is still in beta officially, it's not hard to get an invite. This is a multiplatform, (windows, Mac, web, and phones), program that bills itself as such:

Remember everything.

Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere.

This makes even text in images searchable. Thus, you could take a picture of a menu and upload it. The next time you are looking for a particular dish, you'd just type in what you were looking for and it would be found.

The notebooks can be made public (allowing easy sharing).

The other part of web 2.0. is the social networking aspect. MySpace is absolutely the cat's meow for out students. If we want to understand our students, we need to understand this phenomena.

The other part that I would've preferred would've been to complete the Things in a different order. Part of the digital world is that it doesn't have to be linear. I personally would've preferred to complete these tasks in a different order. To each his/her own.

All in all, I'm really glad that I had the opportunity to complete this project.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Thing #22 - Internet Safety [Public Service Announcement]

Here is a video about Internet Safety. After looking at YouTube more, Internet safety is much needed.

Thing #21

YouTube. Well, this is a curious "thing". YouTube has been a bane to many people. It is filled with banality. It is filled with immature, sometimes disgusting videos. I have chosen my words very carefully. The majority of the videos are what you'd expect from bored, male teens. There is a reason that YouTube is banned in schools.
I also think of the recent teenage girls beating another teenage with the intent of posting the video on YouTube. This was apparently not the only one.
There are some videos that are worthwhile. They are however, very difficult to find among the cruft. Indeed, even though you can search YouTube and ask for videos where the results "filter videos that may not be suitable for minors". However, searching for "education" gave me a George Carlin video (um, lots of bad language).
One of the really good conversation starters for educators is "Pay Attention". This is a good example of a useful video.

On the other hand, TeacherTube is designed to be the YouTube for teachers. They have eliminated the cruft. TeacherTube is much more useful. The quality varies. But this is a much better choice.

Thing #20

Back to RSS for a check in. This is one of the habits that I've developed. I actually use my RSS feeds regularly now. I had tried it long ago, but didn't rally get it. Now I do and use it regularly. The key for me was to use it for a couple of days. I've added and deleted several feeds.

I'm also in the process of figuring out the best RSS reader. I've tried Bloglines (obviously). I like the way that it updates and that it is available at any computer. However, I don't like that its not really easy to revisit a site that I've already looked at (at least not for me). I've also tried NetNewsWire. It's much more flexible. I'm not sure that its the winner yet though. It doesn't seem to hide the things that I've looked at already as neatly. I've also tried Mail. This seems like the least flexible.

When I have more time, I'll play around with reader that I want to use all the time. However, I will be using RSS.

Thing #19

I've set up some bookmarks at delicious. You can check them out here. Nothing of true inspiration though. Mostly, I've bookmarked some Mac sites. I'll delve into this even more in the future. One of the things that I can't afford right now is to spend tons of time changing a system if I have one that works. (This has been a difficult lesson to learn. Im much more careful about this now).

It takes a little getting used to in terms of organization. Using the tags instead of a folder structure has some real advantages. You don't have to decide which folder something needs to go in. Instead, you can tag each item with multiple tags. It is also interesting to see what other people have tagged.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Thing #18

Social Bookmarking. Put this in the why didn't I do this a whole lot earlier file. Simply put, social bookmarking allows one to bookmark things in a much more efficient way. Not only that, but those bookmarks can then be shared with others.
First of all, this is a much more efficient way to bookmark things. Since I use multiple computers, it can be difficult to keep all of the bookmarks the same (or at least similar) on each of the computers. This is an easy way to make sure that no matter where I am, I'll have access to the same bookmarks.
Secondly, this is useful for those "temporary" bookmarks that one develops. Tagging them allows them one to delete them easily when done.
Thirdly, this is an easy way to provide a list of bookmarks for students to follow. If you want to have students visit a variety of sites, you could just bookmark those sites. Then students could simply follow links to get to the right sites without worries about them entering the wrong addresses.
Fourthly, this is a terrifically easy way to share sites amongst teachers.
Once again, I can't believe that I didn't catch on to this earlier than now. If I were to have gotten nothing else out of the 23 Things (which I have), this alone would've been worth the trip.
Wait no longer. Check out delicious.

Thing #17

All about Slidesharing. The idea behind Slidesharing is to basically be able to have your presentations with you anywhere there is a web connection. Basically, you create a presentation (on your computer or through one of the presentation software pieces - Google Docs, Zoho, etc) and upload it to slideshare. The advantages? First of all, this creates a wealth of presentations that can be shared and used by lots of people. Secondly, you have a back-up of your presentation. Thirdly, it creates a bevy of ideas. If you are interested in a certain topic, you can look up the topic and get some ideas of where to start.

Ideas for using in schools. Well, first of all, this could be useful for teachers to share resources. Secondly, principals could use this to provide professional development.