Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Objective 23 - Reflection of the Journey

I have truly enjoyed my 23 Things learning journey. There were tools that I thought I knew how to use, but I always found new facets when playing and completing the discovery assignment. I love this kind of learning – self-paced; some weeks I have more time than others to devote to a project like this. I have also enjoyed walking this path with so many others. I took great pleasure in reading and commenting on my colleague’s blogs.
My concept of Web 2.0 has not really changed throughout this project. I have, however, come to appreciate many things. I know there have been countless hours by Dino to create this project. I know that I have spent more time completing the tasks plus reading and commenting on blogs than I want to admit. It has also been exhilarating to see so much energy put into a technology learning experience.

Looking back over the last ten weeks…I have rediscovered the wonders of Delicious and Twitter. I better understand how Flickr and YouTube work. I was frustrated with my inability to get the exact product I wanted with screencasting and Prezi. I know I reworked those projects dozens and dozens of times.

I was very surprised the there were not more people doing the 23 Things project. This is the one professional development opportunity that did not cost the school money (well, maybe a few bucks for those that completed all 23 tasks within the allotted time) and could literally be done in PJs at any time of day.

I thought the format of the project was well organized, visually appealing, and nicely balanced for a variety of learners. I think we need to do more technology in this format. The weekly workshops were also great tie-ins to the 23 Things.

I am ready for the next 23 Things project. I wonder what the theme should be???

Objective 22 - My Turn to Teach

As a Tech Coach I think I may have an unfair advantage in completing this Thing. I have had the opportunity to help several people with a particular Thing on this journey. I attempted to help Thing 2's Things with Thing 15 (screencasting), but the solution that I had to learn myself first did not work on her computer…so I guess this one does not count. I also spent some time with Bloguette and helped her better understand Nings (Thing 6) and redo her Thing 8 (Customized Start Page). Of course my fellow 23 Things colleagues appreciated the assistance and it helped me reinforce the skills for myself.

I had the occasion on last week to teach an eighth grader how to do a screencast. She approached me a week or so back and asked if there was a way to capture what a person does on a computer screen and upload this video in a PowerPoint. She did a beautiful job on the screencast and was very proud of the final product.

Working in the Win Lab I have also showed countless teachers and students how to use two of my own favorite Web 2.0 tools: KeepVid (allows you to download and save streaming videos) and Video2MP3 (YouTube downloader and converter).

I have been thinking about an online password manager to keep track of all my passwords in one place. Passpack looks like a good choice to me. I feel like I have investigated hundreds of sites, but I know that is an exaggeration. Passpack offers free accounts with a 100 password limit. According the Passpack website the average person has about 25 accounts requiring passwords. You can also import many passwords at once. Passpack promises to keep my logins safe, organized and available 24/7. I can also securely send passwords and messages to people you trust. I have signed up for an account and will put only a few of my passwords in at this time. I want to see how things go

FillAnyPDF is a website where you upload your PDF form and link to it so other people can fill it out and sign it online. No software is needed. Any PDF form can be used, even if it's not "interactive." I cannot count the number of times I have needed a tool just such as this.

Objective 21 - Tweeting about Twitter

I discovered Twitter a couple of years ago. I created an account and then did nothing. On my second introduction to Twitter I began following several gurus in the educational tech world. Then last summer when I attended the NECC conference in Washington D.C. I began to realize the value of Twitter. I tweeted about the different sessions I attended. By following the hashtags about the conference I was able to learn about many sessions that I did not attend.

I have tweeted via my computer by logging onto my Twitter account and by way of my Blackberry using an app called Twitterberry that I downloaded. I looked into downloading OpenBeak , but decided I liked Twitterberry better. I love the ease of tweeting from my phone!

With the 23 Things project I have a new crop of people who are use Twitter in a different way – simply blogging about what they are doing. I have found myself responding to a few more tweets than I have in the past…some that are not identified by #ash23things.

A discovery I made this weekend, that had nothing to do with the 23 Things project, was Neoformix. Neoformix’s tag line is “discovering and illustrating patterns in data.” That alone was fascinating to me. This site shows how tweets can be transformed into small embedded images. I have not played with this enough to create anything, but the images on the site are pretty amazing to me.

I have some Twitter searching to do later about the MACUL conference I attended earlier in March. I did a bit of testing – I like using Search.twitter.com for this kind of searching on Twitter.

Objective 20 - Presentations with Pizzazz

I love SlideShare and have used it many times. When I go to a conference many times the presenter will have a SlideShare of his/her presentation. I also will periodically search SlideShare for presentations that I miss at a conference. When I was first introduced to SlideShare I was also shown Thumbstacks. Apparently Thumbstacks is no longer available. I mention this because there are many Web 2.0 tools that are short lived while others go on to great fame and use. SlideShare is a great way for students to share and comment on class presentations. This is also one way to overcome file format issues; SlideShare supports ppt, pps, pot, pptx, ppsx, potx, and OpenOffice.

I gave myself a time limit to explore SlideShare to find a presentation to embed in my blog. I know I searched, watched, and rejected presentations for more than an hour. There are just so many good ones that captured my attention. Finally I decide I had to just pick one. I browsed by popularity, choosing the most popular of all time. I happened upon a slideshow that someone shared with me recently. I love the vivid images…this is what I was looking for. Just before I uploaded my SlideShare I noticed that [2 + 4 x 6 - 3 x 5 + 6 x 2] THINGS embedded the same SlideShare (now I remember where I seen this particular show), so I looked for another presentation by the same person.
In investigating a bit more about Scribd I discovered this statement “Scribd is a type of a social networking website that allows you to publish all kinds of documents and images to the web. It's great for people who have something to share with the world but don't have a website, technical skills or the patience to publish things in the traditional way.” This is certainly appealing for a distributing a variety of types of documents to a wide population, such as those attending a conference.

I am a great fan of Google Docs in using the forms tool. I have not used the presentation tool. To be honest, with choices like SlideShare or Scribd, I am not sure that I would choose to use Google Docs.

The Professional Learning Community I belong to tried to use DimDim as a monthly meeting option. There are limitations to this type of tool, but is an option on a very snowy meeting day.

I did not explore WiZiQ. I opened the website and immediately knew that I needed to spend more time with this tool. I am intrigued by the front page statement…”WiZiQ enables teachers and learners to collaborate through: virtual classes, online tests, educational content, contact network.”

I saved playing with Prezi last in this Thing. Here is my first Prezi presentation.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Objective 19 - Perusing Podcasts

My greatest obstacle in listening to the podcasts that I selected is that I need to download them to a mobile device. I rarely listen to anything from my computer.

I did not like Podcastalley.com. I was not able to download the few podcasts that I found appealing. There are so many other choices in searching for podcasts that I simply moved on to another site. I have explored the Educational Podcast Network in the past. I love how this site is all education and organized by subject area. It is easy to locate what I am looking for. I found a podcast that I thought would be great The Technology Teacher. The only problem that I noticed is that the last podcast was June 16, 2008. I can listen to old shows, but it appears that this podcast is no longer posted on a regular basis. I have not explored Learn Out Loud before. I liked the organization of the site, but I was able to find most of the same podcasts, that I was interested in, via iTunes. There are certainly lots of podcasts to explore via Podcast.com. I began searching through education. This is not just the type of education I am interested in – that of children – but legal, medical, etc. I really like finding podcast via iTunes/iTunesU; it is so easy to get the latest episode of a podcast. I subscribe to a couple of podcast via iTunes: Middle School Matters, Today’s Middle Level Educator, NPR: Education Podcast, and Tech Chick Tips.

As a school I think we have not truly tapped into the venue of podcasts. If we did more podcasting I think we would improve our parent education. Perhaps with the increase use of the Parent Portal this is an avenue that we need to explore further in the future.

Objective 18 - Working with Wikis

I played in our wiki sandbox for our 23 Things project. It was easy – except – I could not upload an image of my own. I could upload an image that was on the web, but not one that I took. I read the help – that usually assists me in solving my own problems, but not this time. While playing in the sandbox I could not resist eliminating unnecessary spaces in information that others wrote. I know that is my OCD tendencies sneaking out – I just couldn’t help myself.

I contributed to the Academy of the Sacred Heart's Wikipedia entry. Creating a Wikipedia account was not as challenging as I thought it might be. I have to share that I was a bit nervous prior to creating an account. How could I add to “Wikipedia?” After reading all of the instructions, cautions, etc. I actually felt better. There was a line that helped me over my apprehensions about being bold, Wikipedia is not breakable – everything can be reversed.

I contributed to Wikipedia on a topic that was not linked in my original entry. There was no information about Reverend Mother Katherine Wansboro. I am an avid collector of books (mostly purchased from E-bay) about the history of our school. To create a quick entry I relied on Living the Legacy by Arlene Stone.

I also have a WikiSpaces account, not that I have a need for a wiki right now, but just to let others know it is an easy wiki to set up. Then a word about PBworks, I belong to a Professional Learning Community Tech Group, Let’s Talk Technology, that has used PBworks to record notes from our meetings. This tech group likes to dabble with many tools and currently uses the wiki in Moodle, though some information is still in the PBworks wiki.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Objective 17 - Wondrous Wikis

Intellectually I understand the difference between a wiki and a blog. A wiki is a quick, collaborative tool and a blog is a journal-style log. To be quite honest, until the 23 Things project I did not truly understand the value of either of these tools. Upon starting the 23 Things project I immediately fell in love with the set-up of a blog. The organization, the ability to add widgets – this is all very appealing to me. When I first approach Thing 17 I had the attitude of “get through this one quickly” – you know what it is. After reviewing oodles of wikis and reading some of the blogs of my fellow 23 Things colleagues, I began to envision uses for a wiki. One such possibility is the end of the year prizes conversations. In the past this information has been mailed to one person to collate. Boy, have we been wasting our time! Using a wiki each faculty member can record his/her thoughts. This is not only a time saver but information will not be repeated.

I explored lots of wikis that I want to probe a bit more.

I believe all of these wikis can be located with the More… link.

In one comment on a fellow 23 Things blog the question of wiki versus a Ning was posed. The question made me think – what is the difference? Why would I choose one over another? I think I would create a wiki for collaboration on a single project or more “short term” and a Ning for a more “long term” collaborative discussion with a particular group. The Ning feels like a more permanent part of the group that created it. I also seems like a Ning mimics the organization of a blog. Wikis seem to need a person in charge to make sure the posts are structured.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Objective 16 - The Wonderful World of Widgets

I truly believe that I could spend days on this Thing….oh, wait…I have. I have looked at the Gadgets that are part of Blogger plus I explored Widget Box and Widgets for Free blog. I found several widgets that I thought were interesting, but I measured what purpose would it serve placing them on my blog. I already had a post-it calendar and a shelfari bookshelf, so I decided to only add one additional widget - an age timer.

During this Thing I also considered changing my blog template. Several other bloggers – 23 is my favorite number, Debby's Doodles, and [2 + 4 x 6 - 3 x 5 + 6 x 2] THINGS – have made some creative changes and I think their blogs are charming. I have made specific choices in the items I have put on my blog. Though I love the templates and I think many of the widgets are adorable…some of it just does not go with this blog…maybe on my next blog!

I did play around with some of the avatar makers, but I don't think my avatars look anything like me. There may be some disagreement with that statement with my Wild Self.

created with Build Your Wild Self

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Objective 15 - Splendidly Simple Screencasting

Creating a screencast via Screencast-O-Matic was quite simple. My problem was that I could not do the task that I was trying to demonstrate. I know I spent an hour recording the same task. I finally decided to just do something else. I have a personal license of Camtasia, but I want to stay within the Web 2.0 tools for this project. I looked at Jing, Wink, and ScreenToaster, but thought Screencast-O-Matic was the most straight forward to use. I think students would love to use this. I just happened to have a student ask me this week if it was possible to record her manipulating Google Earth.

Objective 14 - Vividly Vivacious VoiceThread

VoiceThread can be a powerful Web 2.0 tool in the classroom and a way to connect to our global world. VoiceThread is collaborative, multimedia tool. Through either images, documents or videos a user can leave comments in a variety of ways – record their voice, type text, upload an audio file or video by way of a webcam. This tool is perfect for Tablet users by inking on an image while recording.

I can think of countless ways to use VoiceThread in a classroom: peer review of art work, examination of master art work, view and discuss original source images and video, revision or review work, identifying objects using a world language, book talks, digital portfolios, poetry performances, and the list could go on and on.

One use of VoiceThread I would like to investigate further is digital portfolios. An example of using VoiceThread for digital portfolios is in the VoiceThread Digital Library. This might prove an excellent resource for student-led conferences.

I had the opportunity to comment of some of my colleagues VoiceThread projects as well as the Hello VoiceThread. I also created my own VoiceThread. I found the commenting and creating my own VoiceThread very easy.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Objective 13 - Yippee for YouTube

YouTube is a video sharing website on which users can upload and share videos. YouTube was started by three former PayPal employees in February 2005 (this fact alone is amazing to me). By November 2006, YouTube was part of the Google family. YouTube is free and available to everyone on the Internet.

TeacherTube is an online community for sharing instructional videos; a mixture of classroom teaching resource as well as others designed to aid teacher training. TeacherTube was launched in March 2007 and was initiated by Jason Smith, a veteran teacher from McKinney, Texas. TeacherTube is a free resource and seems to be mostly geared for teachers.

Launched in November 2006, SchoolTube is a teacher monitored video sharing website. It is dedicated to supporting educational institutions and all of their students to broadcast, and share original videos through a web experience. SchoolTube provides many opportunities including: free SchoolTube Channel for your classroom as well as video hosting for educational and scholastic organizations. You can sign up for a free SchoolTube account. This site has a different “feel” than TeacherTube. There seems to be more content dedicated or created by students.

Discovery Education Streaming has 5,000 full-length videos segmented into 41,000 content-specific clips tied directly state and national standards. Discovery Education Streaming requires an annual subscription; the Academy has such a subscription. When you view a video there are several tabs – segments, related materials, citation of the video, and quick access to more videos in the series (if there are any). Teachers can save a video (or segments), create lessons, writing prompts, and quizzes which students can access via a uniquely created URL.

TED is a small nonprofit devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading”. This movement began in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: “Technology, Entertainment, Design.” TED Talks, widely disseminated on the internet, are subject to a strict time limit of 18 minutes. I found many TED Talks on YouTube. More than 500 TED Talks are provided for free viewing online; I found many TED Talks on YouTube.

I have used all of these resources plus Google videos and Yahoo videos to supplement my classroom teaching and my professional development. I know many people are concerned with the content on YouTube – some is disturbing, but here in the US we operate under the right to free speech. If I come across content that I do not want to see then I stop the video. Sites like TeacherTube and SchoolTube have content that is monitored. Discovery Education Streaming content is of high quality plus there are many tools that educators can utilize to enhance the viewing. I have a high opinion of TED Talks. These are my personal free professional development opportunities. The fact that our school does not block these sites is a testament to our belief in Goal V – “personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom.”

If you did not take the time to watch An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube – you should do so at some point. I found the video very informative. I was fascinated by this comprehensive study of people and their interactions with YouTube.

My blog is written and now I need to decide which of my favorite videos to embed in my blog plus determine whether if am willing to try my hand in uploading a video. I thought about which videos I wanted to share with this audience…there are several. First I thought about some of my favorite Tex Avery cartoons: Symphony in Slang, The Farm of Tomorrow, The House of Tomorrow, Car of Tomorrow, TV of Tomorrow – but many of the readers of this blog are too young to even know about these classics. Then I thought about some of the powerful message videos: Did You Know 1.0, Did You Know 2.0, Did You Know 3.0, Did You Know 4.0, Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us, and If the World Were a Village. Or I could just do something for fun like: Honda Commercial - Choir FX or the Honda Civic Musical Road or Sound of Music in Belguim. I finally decided on a TED Talk by one of my favorite authors, Daniel Pink. I was able to find this video on YouTube and TED. Pink is talking about the surprising science of motivation; this is the heart of his latest book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, a fabulous read.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Objective 12 - A Whopping Wealth of Web 2.0

Of the listed Web 2.0 tools in Thing 12, I have used several: Gliffy, Glogster EDU, SlideShare, Weebly, and Wordle. I played and explored many of the others: MixBook, Picnik, Pikistrips, PollDaddy, Quizlet, Ta-da List, Timetoast, ToonDoo, and Writeboard. There are other Web 2.0 tools that I have used that are not a part of this list:

  • Diigo - Diigo is a social bookmarking website. It allows users to highlight any part of a webpage and attach sticky notes to specific highlights or to a whole page.
  • Doodle - Doodle helps scheduling meetings and other appointments. Doodle is simple, quick, free, and requires no registration.
  • iKeepBookmarks – iKeepBookmarks is a web-based bookmarks manager.
  • jott – Jott’s voice-to-text services let you capture thoughts & reminders, send emails & text messages.
  • Line Rider - Line Rider is a fun online game where you draw tracks and ride the lines.
  • mosaickr - mosaickr is an online service which allows creating great looking mosaics from flickr photos, download them or even print them on posters.
  • My50 – My50 allows you to create a list of things that you wish to do in your lifetime, set deadlines, add pictures and descriptions, read our suggestions and other peoples lists.
  • Prezi - Prezi is a zooming presentation editor.
  • Protopage - Protopage is a free RSS news reader and start page.
  • rockyou - rockyou.com is a social media site that allows photo sharing by adding music in slideshow format.
  • Thumbstacks - Thumbstacks is a bare bones but functional application that allows users to build presentations online and present them via a permanent URL.
  • Vyew - Vyew is a live collaboration and web conferencing tool.
  • Wetpaint - Wetpaint is a web page that a group can edit together.

One of new favorite Web 2.0 tools is JigZone. Completing the digital jigsaw puzzles allows me a few moments to forget what I actually should be doing and relax doing something I really enjoy – jigsaw puzzles.

Objective 11 - Delightfully Delicious

I feel like the 23 Things project was created so that I could achieve some of my personal goals. It seems like all of the “Things” that I have put on my to-do list are part of the 23 Things. Such is the case with Delicious. I love exploring the Internet and finding websites to share with my colleagues on their current topic of study. I have tried a couple of ways of sharing my wealth of sites. Years ago I exported my sites to a word document and emailed them to the appropriate people. They spanned so many pages that it really was a cumbersome document. Then I tried an online bookkeeping site, ikeepbookmarks. The problem with this site is that I still had the bookmarks on my personal computer and only uploaded to ikeepbookmarks periodically. During the Christmas break of 2008 my husband bought me a new personal computer and I upgraded to Office 2007. To move all of my favorites from the old system to the new system he stored them on my external hard drive. I thought – this is it, my time to organize my bookmarks in a usable way. As with many of my little pet organizational projects, something more urgent trumped the process. I started keeping track of the sites I wanted to bookmark in a word document (it is not 192 pages long) – truly not efficient. I played with Delicious for only a few minutes and I was hooked. This is exactly what I wanted. Up until watching the video, I could not articulate my personal need for tags. I have so many sites that fall into several categories (in my mind). In my past methods of tracking my bookmarks I would bookmark the same site under different categories. Delicious is so easy to use. I immediately started with a set of sites I found in the latest issue of Tech & Learning, Web Tools for Enhancing Collaboration.

Now all I need to do is share my Delicious page with my friends.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Objective 10 - Making Meaning Out of Mashups

It is sad, but true, that I did not understand the concept “mashup” prior to completing Thing 10. I have played with many of the Flickr toys in Big Huge Labs in the past as well as Spell with Flickr, but I did not understand these were mashups. One can easily get trapped in these two sites playing with photos (at least I did). I envision students using some of these tools to really spice up some of their projects. I discovered applications that I emailed to friends and I was able to sketch out some future gift ideas for family members. I thought that Flickr Color Pickr and some of the items in Flickrbits.com were interesting, but I could not see a use for them. In exploring the non-Flickr related mashups I found the similar results. Taking up the challenge to find my own mashup, I discovered Obamiconme. This site allows users to make images in the style of Shepard Fairey's iconic "Hope" poster.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Objective 9 - Fun with Flickr

Creating a Flickr account and uploading pictures was so easy! Uploading my personal pictures to Flickr may be an obsession for me. The Common Craft video outlined one of my worries for our family pictures. Until my son was sevenish we took pictures the “old way”. I have eight albums full of pictures of him and then we went digital, every couple of years upgrading our cameras. Now everyone in the family has a digital camera and there are never limits on the number of pictures we take for any and every occasion. We have traveled to some amazing places and taken some great photos – all of which are stored on my external hard drive. We have not shared these and rarely look through them – what a shame! On my list of things to do is to scan the printed pictures so all photos are digital. Uploading to a site like Flickr can be part two of this task.

Both Compfight and Morguefile are excellent places to locate pictures for classroom presentations. These are also great places to direct students who are looking for images. So many times students simply go to Google Images. There are other choices; we simply need to share this with them.


Originally uploaded by Angie Saylor
I cannot put a picture of Astro on my blog without one of Kitty. Yes, my cat's name is Kitty. When she was a kitten and my son was little, we simply referred to her as the kitty. So, that became her name!


Originally uploaded by Angie Saylor
The notorious Astro perched on the arm of chair in the family room. If his tail was showing it would be wagging away.

Objective 8 - The Necessity of Netvibes

Revisiting my Netvibes page is one of the 23 Things that I was truly looking forward to. I started my Netvibes pages sometime ago, but did not add all of the RSS feeds and widgets that I wanted to appear on my page. As I am sure happens to everyone, I got involved in another project and pretty soon finishing my Netvibes pages was so far removed from my priority list that I forgot about it completely.

I receive lots of daily or weekly newsletters as an email from the various professional organizations I belong to – ASCD, NSTA, ISTE, NMSA, just to name a few. If I just received one email every day from all of my professional groups, my mailbox fills up quickly. Most of the time I do not have time to read the news until the weekend – by then my inbox is overwhelming. I have discovered that much of the daily news is repeated so it would be so much easier to go to one location and just read the headlines. It has taken quite some time to set up all this information on my Netvibes pages, but I think the payoff will be worth it! One of the queries posted for this Thing was how Netvibes (or Pageflakes) compares to Google Reader. My Netvibes page is pulling news, daily newsletter articles, as well as my e-bay, craigslist, and local area info together in one location. Also in one location, My Google Reader is tracking the blogs that interest me. Both are designed to help reduce my time in the digital world and still keep me informed of what is happening in the world.

Objective 7 - Ready to Use Google Reader

Google Reader - what a fabulous tool! I started following many of my colleagues in the ASH 23 Things Project, but I was not utilizing the Google Reader. I love the feature of being able to see the number of new or unread items in parentheses next to the feed's title. This is truly a time saver. I wondered how some of the avid bloggers were able to keep up with all of the reading. Once I organized my Google Reader page to best suit me, I was able to better appreciate the power of this tool. As recommended, I went back to Thing 3 and added a few of the 25 Sample Blogs to the list of blogs I am following.

Objective 6 - Just Ninging Around

Sitting it the audience of a tech conference a few years ago – that was the first time I heard the term Ning. I actually put it on my list of things to investigate. The following year, at the same tech conference, I heard a few more tidbits about Nings. I thought to myself, “how great can they be?” Then I joined the MACUL Ning. This is a great place to go to read and share tech ideas. The concept of a Ning is very appealing to me. The idea of subscribing to a couple of Nings to interact with others interested on a central topic is worthy of my attention, but then so is Facebook, Twitter, and a dozen other social networking sites. I think it would be very valuable for a teacher to have a class Ning. One of the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS-S) focuses on communication and collaboration. Many students at the middle and upper levels belong to some social networking group; however, this was one of the lowest scored areas by our current Freshman students when they completed an eighth grade technology competency exam. Providing a Ning may give students’ opportunities to collaborative in an environment that is focused on a specific area as well as capitalize on the concept that students are social beings.

Objective 5 - Loosely LinkedIn

I created a LinkedIn account some time ago, but did not enter all of my profile information until just recently. I understand how LinkedIn can be a valuable resource for someone if he/she were looking for a job or worked in an environment where connections are everything. It is not that connections are not important in education; I just think our pool of potential connections is limited. The limitations seem especially so with a private school. I believe there is value in trying to link with other educators that are in a similar position as I hold at Sacred Heart. I wonder if LinkedIn is the right tool to build this kind of network. I belong to Facebook, though I do not use this networking site as a link to my family and friends.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Objective 4 - Commenting on Colleagues

I started leaving comments on fellow ASH 23 Things blogs before I finished reading the 25 Sample Blogs. I had a difficult time leaving meaningful comments. Once I read through the 25 Sample Blogs I understood what was being said and left better comments. I know some ASH 23 Things participants were very excited to get a comment on their blog. I want to leave quality comments and not leave anyone out (there is that Sacred Heart quality shining through), but this takes time. I still have not made it through everyone’s blog and I do not want them to feel neglected – there are only so many hours in a day!

If we, adults, feel this excited about feedback, I am beginning to understand how students feel. I have experienced collecting an assignment from students and the next period they want to know what I think about their work. I know I have said something like “are you kidding.” But there are adults in the ASH 23 Things project that want t know if I read their blog minutes after they posted it. I think it is just human nature to want immediate feedback. In this day and age this has come to be the norm for many experiences.

I read and belong to many online learning communities, almost all of which relate to education, science, and/or technology. However, up until now I have rarely commented online. I am passionate about learning. I love the feeling of discovering something new or validating something in which I believe. I even comment to myself as I read. It is a risk to put your thoughts and feelings “out there”; I think I have the same insecurities I try to help students overcome. This project is helping me rethink how I approach my online learning.

Objective 3 - Blogging About Blogs

The task of deciding which of the 25 Sample Blogs I would read seemed like a daunting task to me. I know how I function on the web. I read one thing, click on a link, and then click on another link, and pretty soon I am miles away from where I started. I also have an voracious appetite for reading and gathering information. I have spent hours reading and clicking through these blogs. I have to applaud Dino on the collection. This is quite a cross section. I discovered that I was most drawn to the ones that tickled my intellect. Though I find value in the ones that were written by younger children, these did not have me reading all the comments and peripheral information associated with a blog.

I can’t begin to count the number of times I have heard that the youth of today are “digital natives.” What I appreciated about Betchablog is that this might be a flawed perception. It is true that my son can manipulate all the technologies of his cell phone faster than I can. This is partly due to the fact that I simply do not spend as much time on my phone as he does. As tech savvy as I think he is, he is still challenged with printing the assignments that he completes on his laptop. In Bob Sprankle’s Blog, Bit by Bit, he suggests that “Perhaps we need to set a date for our education to switch entirely over from analog.” I think we are already moving at a speed that I can barely keep with. I think we are on the very outer edges of an educational explosion. In the past decade there has been a slow shift to more integrated technology in classrooms, teachers moving to the role of facilitator of learning, and learning for the sake of learning; but in the last couple of years this shift as increased exponentially.

There was line in the blog A Simple Desultory Dangling Conversation that struck a chord with me, “life is an open-book test”. I cringe when my son tells me he had a quiz over a chapter he was suppose to read. I can tell his teachers that they are turning him off from learning. But the simple truth is that it is easier to create a five question quiz than to help students think and engage in learning. Creating The Upside-down Pop Quiz is more time consuming and requires more effort in the set-up on the part of the teacher. I would not thrive in this type of learning environment. I relate to David Truss’ Blog, Pair-a-dimes for Your Thoughts about Googling (is this even a real word??) a question. When I am at a conference or workshop I Google everything that the speaker presents and create hyperlinks in my notes. I feel lost then I cannot verify a fact, look something up to stretch beyond the original idea, or to make connections in my learning. I can only imagine that students feel trapped and stifled in learning. It is amazing what students can do if allowed. I wonder if we are holding them back with our own insecurities with technology. Clearly students are capable of articulating valid opinions about learning. One has to be amazed by the Students 2.0 blog.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Objective 2 - Why Web 2.0?

I can vividly remember when I first embarked on my tech journey. It is easy to put a date with the beginning...I just moved to Michigan and my son was one year old. So as my child napped each day I decided to try something new on the family computer. Each night I would show my husband what I learned that day. He, of course, offered shortcuts to what I tried and I almost always shrugged him off. I wanted to learn on my own! I was stimulating to tackle this new world. Looking for and trying new Web 2.0 applications gives me the same excited feeling. There are so many Web 2.0 tools on the web that each exploration is a thrilling new adventure. I love the hunt for a new tool that will ease the task of the students and teachers that I worl with.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Objective 1...And the Journey Begins

Without a shadow of a doubt the greatest challenge in this undertaking is coming up with my blog name. I have anguished over this simple task for better than two weeks. The end result is not as clever as I wanted, but I have to move on. I am very excited about this project. I love to see the renewed excitement about technology workshops permeate throughout the building. It seems everywhere I turn there is some buzz about the 23 Things. It almost seems like a mystery...what will happen next. It is also energizing to see so many faculty and staff member eager to uncover how 21st century tools can enhance their world.