Notes from a Laptop

February 21, 2009

Time to Revive!

Filed under: General comment,Web 2.0 — Lindajay @ 10:19 am

tsl2This blog has been neglected of late, while trying to encourage others to get on board with Web 2.0 tools – which is a bit illogical when you think about it (though the time has been dedicated to another teaching blog). It’s now time to revive it, as I am currently participating in an online conference, Transforming School Libraries, which aims to share ideas and inspire each other internationally.

Indeed, ideas are coming thick and fast and we are being ‘thrown in the deep end’, as we navigate a new workspace where we ‘meet’ for the next 9 days. Therefore, this will be a great place to reflect on some of the ideas I glean from the conference, and a place to collect further international links as others share what they have found to work in schools (school libraries, in particular – see the Blogroll to the right). It will also link, I hope, to the planned Web 2.0 instructions I can use for peer tutoring at school this year.

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November 21, 2008

Thinking inside the box- SimplyBox

Filed under: Web 2.0 — Lindajay @ 1:40 pm

sboxA relatively new Web 2.0 tool is known as SimplyBox.

It provides the facilities to collect snippets from web pages (like Window Vista snip tool), provide links back to these (like Delicious) and enable sharing of details, pictures and links with friends and colleagues (like One-Note, Flickr, Facebook, etc.). So it has many tools in one application.

How-to

A quick trial run revealed that it is relatively quick and easy to download, and easy to get started:

1. Simple sign-up by choosing a Username, password and adding you email address. A link is sent to your email for verification.

2. You then need to download the SimplyBox toolbar to your browser using the link provided. You can also use SimplyBox without this toolbar.

simply-box

3. After the installation of the toolbar (see image above), you need to login as a last step (in the toolbar space) and get to work or play! If the toolbar is not showing have a look in View/ Toolbars and select SimplyBox.

4. Once your toolbar is up, you can visit a website then save all, or part of it, to SimplyBox for later referral, or sharing with others.

The introductory video provides lots of suggestions for its use – planning, sharing important sites, and the ability to organise your online serendipitous discoveries in personalised containers and boxes:

  • Planning a holiday? collect sippets of information about your plans to share with friends
  • Writing an essay? collect your quotes and reference links in one of the containers
  • Like to share videos? direct your frineds to your video tab
  • Found some valuable sites for your students? place them all in one box for students to access

I am in early discovery mode so would like to know what others think after they have played with SimplyBox themselves.

August 22, 2008

Using Wordle

Filed under: Web 2.0,Wordle — Lindajay @ 4:33 pm

I was reminded once again about this magical tool when reading through some posts on Blogging Corner recently. One of these (from Tania) expanded my thoughts on this and so I have tried playing once again with it.

Tania spoke on her web site, Brave New World, about: 

Using Hitler’s speech delivered in Munich in April, 1923, the wordle has created a powerful, visual summary of the text, revealing  points of emphasis.

This encouraged me to go beyond just inputting a blog address into Wordle (which picks up the key terms used in a blog) for generating an image.

I tried using Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which generated the following image.

Image generated by Wordle, licenced by http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/

In this age of visual literacy, I really think this is great online tool, which could have a multitude of uses.

May 10, 2008

the Why 2 of Web 2.0 – Will Richardson at Syba Signs Conference

Filed under: Web 2.0 — Lindajay @ 10:27 pm

In Sydney yesterday, Will Richardson spoke at some length about the skills developed at an early age by individual creative students – in spite of their schooling. He gave the example of 14 year old, Andrew Winton, who has recently schooled Will’s children about using Scratch (a new programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art) via internet conferencing.

He gave other examples of the way in which Web 2.0 tools are, for example, having a notable impact on US elections, via Obama’s blogging ability, while also enabling retirees to earn a prosperous living after work. (and has included lots of these examples at: http://willrichardson.wikispaces.com/)

Web 2.0 is here to stay – and make an impact! The world of work also reflects a web 2.0 impact – employers googling prospective employees, businesses managing  the tools to grow their businesses, and also demanding the ability to collaborate in an online world  from their prosepctive employees.

The online connectivity of students is no longer disputed, and with these other factors impacting, it is vital that schools and educators sit up and listen – and take part! Kids are not waiting for us to work out for them what’s good and what’s bad, so we need to ask these questions for them.

The read/write web (RWW) meets the needs of students today who are continually online and connected to vast social networks outside of school, through mobile phones, MSN, MySpace and Facebook. With guidance, the interest in these social networks can enrich their educational experience and help them make best use of the many networks which engage them.

Examples of Web 2.0 making a difference which were highlighted by Will included:

  • Nata Village Blog – http://natavillage.typepad.com/ connecting with schools in Bostwana
  • Cyclone Nargis – rapid social editing on Wikipedia for current informed knowledge of a recent disaster
  • Nine Inch Nails – modern approach to promoting music – free download of latest album
  • FanFiction – readers writing and contributing chapters to well known fiction
  • Secret life of bees Blog – an early exploration of the use of blogs discussing literature and enabling a response from the author
  • Flat Classroom Project – echoing Thomas Friedman’s book, the World is Flat, this aims to join classrooms around the world into one big classroom.

Thus, Will calls us to “help our students leverage the technologies they are already using instead of have them check them at the door” And he encourages us to see the relevance of Web 2.0 tools for our classrooms and tech savvy students, and to adapt some of these technologies to maintain the links between education and the real world kids live in. View Will’s presentation which was videoed live to the net from:

 http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/401163

April 14, 2008

Twitter

Filed under: General comment,Web 2.0 — Lindajay @ 4:52 pm

After attending a recent conference, which had a lot to say about web 2.0, I decided to investigate Twitter and find out what other web 2.0 tools I might employ as a TL.

Twitter is an application which enables you to make quick and sometimes quirky links with a whole range of different people, worldwide, as often as you want. By signing in at: http://twitter.com, you are able to make comments or ask questions within a small post of 140 characters. These are then responded to by people in your network (followers) whom you have selected yourself.

What I found

  • Getting started is both challenging and easy at the same time.
  • Begin with people you know who use Twitter (‘following’ them) or search for a known person.
  • This allows you to peruse their followers and locate people with similar interests/needs.
  • Use other groups to find Twitterers (e.g. listservs such as OZTL_NET) – this helps you to link with people who have obvious connections already. Thus your network develops.
  • Check out the followers of others by visiting their web site links (in their Twitter information).
  • Ask questions – this leads to responses to help you learn how-to Twitter.

The value of Twitter

There are many devotees of Twitter. It is an easy way to get a quick answer to a question – if your network is big enough. In her comprehensive post, Are you Twittering?, Sue Waters provides extensive details on what Twitter has to offer, and indeed how to get started.

My own early experience with Twitter was that it was a fast way to get information from lots of different people and locations. Within a very short time, (through a Twitterer with lots of connections – thanks, Sue), I had lots of input to a query I raised. I have also found lots of educators’ web sites with great examples of best practice with students using Web 2.0, which I may never have found otherwise.

The other side of the coin is revealed in a post by Scott Karp titled Why I stopped using Twitter. He found “Twitter to be mesmerizing, which partly reflects the brilliance of the design and partly that I was following really interesting, insight, enjoyable people, whose random musings were worth following”… but time consuming. And it can be.

So, is it worth signing up?

I think yes, providing you have a purpose, a network, or an idea of what you want it to do for you.

Perhaps, we need to consider ways in which to harness the tool rather than the tool controlling us. At the same time then, we can enjoy the harmless and often frivolous chatter that might come our way – if only reminds us there are real people, just like you and I,  behind all those 140 character posts!

April 2, 2008

Obstacles to adopting Web 2.0

Filed under: obstacles,Web 2.0 — Lindajay @ 2:27 pm

obstacle.jpgWeb 2.0 tool were big on the agenda of School Libraries Leading Learning, the conference of ASLA NSW, held at the King’s School last weekend. Several comments were made about the slow adoption of these wonderful tools, but unfortunately in many schools there are often obstacles. Here are just a few observations on possible hitches which come when adapting Web 2.0 tools to school situations, for which we need to find solutions (or at least be aware of):

  • access to sites blocked at server (departmental) level – e.g. schools unable to access webmail products like Gmail, or viewing of Youtube blocked for protection issues
  • inability to download plugins to school computers – sometimes only the administrators can allow this (try and find them and pin them down to do it!) – e.g. problem accessing tools such as del.icio.us toolbars
  • reading of, and access to, blogs may be blocked by school filters – e.g. filters using word blocking
  • different levels of online access may surprise teachers – e.g. teacher access to some sites that are blocked for students – YouTube – lesson prepared on teacher’s login but to run on students’ logins
  • peak periods of demand on school networks, leading to slow access e.g. slow and faultering display of videos which are being streamed (or in fact, low bandwidth of school networks)
  • time needed to learn new tools, and then decide which is the most valuable to adapt and use, so that it is integrated validly into classroom use – not just as a fancy add-on
  • cost – in time, training, and updating of hardware and networks to manage new demands

Still, in spite of all (or some of these) obstacles, we as teachers and teacher-librarians should endeavour to try at least some of these tools, (no need to be phased by the vast numbers, just pick a few) and share our successes with others – in training, guiding and encouraging through the difficulties and frustrations. Perhaps we need a place online to regularly share our successes and point others in a positive direction in adaptation of Web 2.0.? As Ross Todd said: “Just do it!” But I add: “Let’s share it!”

March 14, 2008

Dynamics of Web 2.0

Filed under: General comment,Web 2.0 — Lindajay @ 12:49 pm

signup.jpgThe previous post was edited due to changes which occurred in using Learnerblogs (to a focus on Edublogs instead), and since that time further changes have occurred. It is now easier to add students to a blog, using the Gmail option, but directly within Edublogs. This is available on the Users/ Blog & User Creator tab.

So instead of jumping in and out of Edublogs and Gmail to create students as users, it is possible to add (they say) 15 students at a time. I haven’t personally tried this option but it seems a good one. Just be prepared for it to take a little while.

Keys to success, in adding students to Edublogs, include:

  1. planning ahead
  2. keeping good records (e.g. using Excel to record student names/ Gmail/ usernames/ passwords
  3. starting small (small reliable group of students or staff to get used to blogging as a group)
  4. enthusiasm and regularity in posting

If you are ready for the journey, then click on the image ‘sign up for free’ to go to Edublogs ready to sign up. At the Edublogs, there are also helpful 5 minute introductory videos to guide you along the way.

February 1, 2008

Setting up classblogs – with Learnerblogs; no, Edublogs!

Filed under: Class blogs,Tutorials,Web 2.0 — Lindajay @ 8:25 pm

Begin by setting up an email account (to use for setting up blogs) at http://gmail.com

lplate.jpgThen go to http://learnerblogs.org  http://edublogs.org and click on ‘sign up for free’ option to set up the class blog. This involves selecting a username, adding in an email address (above). Be careful in your choice of username as it will be part of the web site address – good to be general, not too specific (e.g. will you use the blog with more than one group?) Follow through the rest of the screen, clicking to agree to educational use, entering the verification numbers, and clicking on the ‘gimme a blog’ option.

In the following screens, (unless you have to adjust your username), you are able to give your blog a name, which can be changed later if needed. Then, click off the option to have the blog appear in search engines (unless that is something you want.) In the edublogs option select ‘teacher’ for the main/class blog.

A screen should appear asking you to check your email for an activation message. Check this at gmail and click on the activation link. You should then receive a screen from Learnerblogs Edublogs with your username and password – this password can be changed later. BE SURE TO LOGOUT OF LEARNERBLOGS EDUBLOGS.

To set up students, begin again at learnerblogs edublogs, and go through the same process, making sure you are registering a new blog, not adding to your own. Have a username ready (student first name and initial combined – not an identifying name), then use your gmail address +the student username. E.g. if the gmail is groovyteacher@gmail.com, the email for the student blog (say sarahb.edublogs.com) is groovyteacher+sarahb@gmail.com – this ensures the notification for the student’s blog is delivered to groovyteacher@gmail.com which allows the teacher to perform the activation process for the blog.

It is a good idea to keep an accurate track of things as you set up the blogs, so have an Excel file open to record usernames and passwords. These can then be printed on cards with the class blog address for distribution to students when they start blogging. (No need to change passwords, if they are carefully recorded and printed out for students.)

When all students are registered with learnerblogs, you then need to log into the class blog from the learnerblogs home page with your password. Logging in will take you to your Dashboard where you click on the Users tab. Scroll down to ‘Add User From Commmunity’ and enter the students’ email addresses in here, selecting their role as ‘contributor’. Their names should then be listed as a contributor in the space above.

The students can now log in and begin to write posts. These will be sent to the class blog, and are managed by the teacher when logged in to the classblog by clicking on the ‘Manage’ tab on the dashboard. You are able to edit the post, send comments back to the student (in the title of the post – then SAVE), or PUBLISH the post for the student.

Once you have done this, you need to go through the process of setting up the class blog – setting up privacy options, presentation of the blog and your first posts.

As the students become more attuned with blogging, you can also introduce them to their personal blogs and instruct them in the set up process.

It is, of course, well worthwhile investigating learnerblogs and edublogs for additonal information about using blogs in education. A forum exists to look for advice or ask questions when you have difficulties or ideas to pursue.

##  Edited March 1 to take into account changes at edublogs, which have eliminated the sign up for learnerblogs, though the same principles apply. Reference to ‘learnerblogs’ should be ‘edublogs’ now.

November 12, 2007

It’s Delicious!!

Filed under: del.icio.us,Web 2.0 — Lindajay @ 1:22 pm

delicious.jpgOne of the most popular Web 2.0 tools is del.icio.us. It’s a web tool which provides:

  1. access to your bookmarks – anywhere, anytime, on any computer
  2. quick links for classes to use (I have entered previously selected sites for a teacher, 5 minutes before a lesson started)
  3. access to links others have found (by checking to see who is bookmarking similar sites to you
  4. professional research list (by finding those who have similar tags to your needs)
  5. tracking your browsing as you do it (easily tagged to del.icio.us as you browse)

How do you do it?

Begin at del.icio.us, and follow the sign up process. You need:

  1. an email address you can readily access to confirm and access details
  2. a computer you are able to download to (to download the del.icio.us buttons to the toolbar). Check with IT for admin rights for this step if it is not your personal computer.
  3. an internet conection, of course.

By following the steps given, you will end up registered with del.icio.us, with 2 new icons on your browser toolbar (if not check View/ Toolbars, and click the del.icio.us box).

Then you can start visiting your favourite pages and clicking on the tag icon to begin entering links to your del.icio.us pages. As your collection grows, you can collect like links in bundles to gain order.

Investigating the links which are popular (i.e. saved by other people), you can click on the pink bar and see what other people are collecting – you can see their del.icio.us pages. Privacy is easily enabled if you want to keep a favourite/ bookmark to yourself.

For more detail about what you can do with del.icio.us, see their simple outline page. Or read through the guide-to-delicious.pdf attached here, which outlines some of the main functions available.

October 8, 2007

Web 2.0 lessons

Filed under: Tutorials,Web 2.0 — Lindajay @ 8:29 pm
Tags: , , ,

web-20.jpgSo you are ready to embark on the voyage of using Web 2.0 tools? Probably works best when you have a bit of understanding of the basics. Right? What is a blog? RSS feed? difference between a blog and a wiki? why use Flickr? and what is del.icio.us all about?

One useful guide, I came across some time back is: Five Weeks to a Social Library . Here you can learn about the intricacies of some Web 2.0 tools, by accessing archived lessons at your own pace, then trial these tools at leisure.

This is one of many sites which help with the understanding of Web 2.0 tools – starting with the basics. Are there others you might recommend?

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