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.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Video on a Blog

A Welcome Note.

Thing 16

Thing 16 is online productivity tools. This one is a bit harder for me. I've spent a lot of effort at developing my current productivity system. Thus, moving to another system would be extremely difficult at this point. Still, it does provide for some interesting comparisons.

Bubbl- Easy to create mind maps. You can also export them to either HTML or XML. Currently, I use VUE (Visual Understanding Environment) from Tufts Unversity (for FREE) to create mind maps. Bubbl looks interesting but not enough to get me to switch at this point. It was easy to create a map though.
Zoho Show - Online presentations. This looks pretty impressive. Note that Zoho Show is just a part of the Zoho suite. This is similar to Google Docs. Zoho Show looks more complete than Google's Presentation. Zoho also has more parts than Google currently. A similar tool is DimDim. DimDim allows for free on-line meetings. DimDim allows you to share not only a presentation, but also your desktop. I've not had an opportunity to put these to work in the "real world" yet, but both sound fascinating.
Remember the Milk - I've spent some time working with productively tools. I read David Allen's book "Getting Things Done" (commonly referred to as GTD) last summer. I've spent some time trying to find the very best way to do devices (I've gone from a Palm, to a Pocket PC to using the iPod Touch) and a variety of software tools (Things, Thinking Rock, etc) to help me keep track of things. I really can't face one more right now (this is a really busy time of year). So, I took a quick look at this. It seems to have some power, but I'm concerned about how long it took me to enter tasks (this is true of most task managers). For now, I'll stick with using Apple Mail and iCal to manage my tasks.
30 Boxes - Here is an online calendar. Again, I have lots invested in a calendar program that works for me. Thus, I registered for this and checked it out. I played around with it a bit. There are some advantages. You can share your calendar with others. This would make it easier for a busy family to keep in touch. Or, as a teacher, you could share a classroom calendar with assignments on it. For me though, I'll stick with Plaxo and Apple Mail. (Plaxo allows me to sync calendars between Mail and Outlook - and Google Calendar. That way, all of my calendars (including those on my iPod and phone) are kept up to date.)
Library Thing - (as of May 4th its' down. Thus, a review will need to come later.) My daughters use Shelfari instead of LibraryThing. Shelfari allows you to create a virtual bookshelf. It also allows you to establish groups and reading circles. However, like all social networking sites, it requires a large number of participants. I'll have to go off of my daughters' experience. They've set up a couple of groups but didn't get a lot of participants.
Knowtes - Flash card study program. The pitch sounds interesting. However, clicking on the "News" section produces an empty page. The same thing happens with the "Help" section. Not a good sign. This is a beta program. There is also a desktop version. Many of the publicly avialable "decks" (groups of flash cards) are from just a couple of people. This could be a very useful tool for students to study, especially since you could share study cards. I'll wait just a bit though. I will keep an eye on this service though.

Thing 15

Thing 15 is all about Google Docs. Google docs was born largely when Google bought Writely. Basically, Google Docs is an on-line Microsoft Office suite. There are really big differences, but it's a simple way to understand what Google Docs is all about. With Google Docs, you have access to a word processor, a spreadsheet program, and a presentation program. All are much more basic than programs that live on your computer, but they are all functional. There are also some benefits. For example, you can easily share your documents with whomever you want. Both of you can work on the documents at the same time.

Google now has an offline component. I've never used it so I'm not sure how well that it works.

I've used Google Docs for quite a little while now. Shawn and I use it for show notes. That way, either of us can add to the notes throughout the week. When we're ready to podcast, we've got the same notes in front of us.

Some districts block Google Docs. Check before you plan on using it.

Google Docs would be used largely like Wiki's.

Thing 14

Podcasting a great way to get your voice out there. There are also a
wide variety of ways to podcast. You can do everything from setting an
account where you just call in from a phone (although these are
sometimes blocked from a district-you'd need to set it up somewhere
else first). That makes it extremely easy to podcast. All you do is
call a number, punch a couple of numbers as prompted, and then talk.
Everything else is done automatically.
You can also use Audacity to
record your podcast on a computer (it's cross platform and free). If
you have a Mac, GarageBand is a great way to go.
If you really like
control, you can buy a domain and run everything yourself. That takes a
little bit of knowledge and a little bit of cash.
Our district supports podcasting by including some free tools to help teachers make and post them.
Like many other things, time and professional development is an issue in implementing podcasts.

Thing 13

Thing 13 asks us to subscribe to podcasts. Since, I've long been a subscriber (oh, and did I mention a podcaster - check out Middle School Matters), I'll share some of my favorites:

Buzz Out Loud - a daily show from the nice people at Cnet. Tom Merritt and Molly Wood are the usual hosts
Daily Giz Wiz - Dick Debartolo and Leo Laporte. Dick is billed as "MAD's Maddest writer". This one is usually short 15 minutes or so. The joy is not the technology that they talk about, but their banter.
MacBreak Weekly - good information about what's going on in the Mac world.
MacCast - a long running podcast by Adam Christenson. This is a high quality podcast about "all things Macintosh".
Middle School Matters - selfless plug again.
Net at Nite - Amber Macauther and Leoporte talk about stuff going on on the net.
Practical Principals - a couple of principals having a friendly discussion.
Surfbits - Another Mac centric podcast.
TedTalks- A video podcast that sends out talks from the TED conference. TED has some terrific talks from fascinating people. If you've not checked this one out, you owe it yourself to take a look.
The Mac Observer's Mac Geek Gab - Two friends talk about the Mac. Mostly, they answer listeners questions and offer advice.
The Tech Night Owl- a longer podcast. The host (Gene Steinberg) isn't always my favorite, but he gets some good guests on.
The Tech Teachers- Ray and Hollye talk about using technology in teaching. Ray is a high school science teacher, Hollye teaches Middle School Spanish (until next year when she moves to the High School)
This Week in Media- Alex Lyndsay leads this group of media insiders.
This Week in Tech - The grand daddy of podcasts. Leo Laporte leads an ever changing crew (lots of regulars- including John C. Davorak).

Well, that's a few of my regular listens. What are yours?

Thing 12

OK, a little about podcasting. I've been a fan of podcasting for a couple of years. So much so, that I started a podcast (Middle School Matters). The idea was to provide for professional development while also providing a forum for middle school teachers to discuss what's going on. I'd love to get more feedback on it.

The podcasts that I enjoy mostly tend to be focused around the Mac. This Week in Tech is one of my favorites (not Mac centered), as well as MacBreak Weekly, the MacGeek Gab and more.

Podcasting has an easy place in education. Teachers can use it to provide a deeper experience for students. Teachers could also use it to differentiate. For example, instead of trying to be in three places in the classroom, a teacher could pre-record a couple of different lessons. Then certain students could be assigned different tasks. Each podcast could include the "lecture" (which could be listened to more than once if needed) and the assignment.

Students could use podcasts to show what they know. They could create a podcast to explain a topic that they've learned about. Podcasts could also be used in jigsaw fashion. This way, students could "teach" the rest of the class about a specific topic.

These can also help students who miss out on a day. While it's not the same as being there, a podcast of what happened can help for review and is certainly better than nothing.