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 - 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 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.