Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Final Thoughts: Thing #23

This has been one of the most fun and worthwhile inservice activities I have participated in. What made it especially good were the choices of tools to become familiar with, the timeliness of the topics, and the resource links that someone very smart put together for us! As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, I will now bring much more knowledge to all of my professional reading and my on-the-job interaction with teachers.

This inservice was a much-needed kick in the pants to get going on learning about all of these new tools! Some I will find much more useful than others, but all of them are part of the lives of the digital natives we are teaching these days, so we need to be informed about them.

I hope that other opportunities like this are offered in the future!

What Did I Learn Today?: Thing #22

I hereby resolve to keep up my personal inservice on these various 2.0 tools!!!

I agree that 15 minutes per day is not a lot to commit, and I believe it will be possible for me because my esteemed colleague, Terri Osland, uses these interactive tools on a day-to-day basis in her interaction with me and other colleagues. She regularly shares documents and spreadsheets, she maintains a blog, she is our go-to person for tips on embedding videos, subscribing to social networking communities, etc. She keeps me on my toes!

I very much appreciate having much more background knowledge about so many of the 2.0 tools that are frequently mentioned in articles in our professional journals, now that I have had a chance to try them myself. Thanks for this opportunity!

Other Social Networks: Thing #21

I believe that more-specific, career-related social networks would be more useful to me than general networks like FaceBook or MySpace.

I joined the 23 Things Ning, added the badge to my page, and left a message for Karen Christensson, whom I mentored several years ago she was finishing her media certification and I enjoy still running into at MEMO conferences.

I joined Shelfari a few weeks ago (see "bookshelf" at left!) at the recommendation of a my esteemed colleague, Terri Osland, who thought I might like to share thoughts about the books I was reading and see what other friends are reading. I find that because I'm already very busy reading books for the four book clubs in which I participate, I do not have time to share about them online, but I think it's an attractive site and an intriguing concept, particularly for people who want to share ideas for and about good books but do not belong to an physical book club.

View my page on 23 Things on a Stick

FaceBook: Thing #20

I read the blog entries and documents linked to the Thing tutorial about FaceBook, but I am creating just this "skeleton" entry at the moment because I cannot access FaceBook from school. Both FaceBook and MySpace are blocked in my school district at the request of administration, who were finding that students were nearly addicted to checking their sites for updates on their "friends" lists, reading other students' entries, etc., and teachers were wrestling with a significant classroom management issue.

The prevalence of these social networking sites, and the creative uses of music, videos, photos, etc. within them, provide a clear indication of how "digitally native" our students are. Many teachers would be amazed at the tech savvy of the young people in their classrooms. Like gaming, the use of social networking sites for library-related purposes seems to be essential if we are to truly reach the populations who are important patrons now and into the future.

Podcasts: Thing #19

Over the past couple of years I have listened to various podcasts available in the iTunes library, and Tim Wilson, who used to work in my school district and is now the director of technology for the Buffalo School District, often includes interesting podcasts on his Savvy Technologist blog. This has been a good way for him to share interviews he has conducted with various technology leaders around the country whom he has met at conferences, workshops, etc.

For this Thing, I took a look at the podcasts available through the various sources mentioned, and I particularly enjoyed the "Grammar Grater" weekly podcast available on the MPR site. As a former English teacher, I retain a big interest in correct language usage, and this series of podcasts about "English words, grammar, and usage for the Information Age" is both interesting and entertaining. I subscribed to it by adding it to my RSS links in Vienna.

Monday, April 14, 2008

YouTube: Thing #18

Searching for videos in YouTube is one of the most addictive computer activities in which I see students engaged--they seem to have direct lines of information to the latest and greatest videos, and word spreads like wildfire whenever there is a some new cool video ("cool" usually meaning funny, outrageous, satirical, etc.) that they all want to see.

We do not have YouTube blocked in our school, even through some other schools do, because even teachers have been using it to incorporate short videos into their online course materials and class presentations. Recently we started to get concerned about whether or not the widespread viewing of videos on YouTube might be slowing down our network due to it taking up an inordinate amount of bandwith, so we experimented with blocking it for an afternoon. Guess what--there was in fact no appreciable change in network traffic or speed. So, we decided to let well enough alone.

Out of curiosity, I searched for Hopkins High School in YouTube and found this video, which I practiced embedding into my blog:

ELM Productivity Tools: Thing #17

We are truly fortunate to have such an array of useful online resources provided by State funding!

Although I have used these resources often in my work and promote them and train staff and students in their use, I had never used the "create a web page" feature to store and share search results. This will be a great way to send teachers the results of information searches they on occasion request me to perform for them, and individual students can easily e-mail to themselves the list of articles they would like to "save" for further viewing when outside school.

My school subscribes to ProQuest Platinum, which I find superior to the EBSCO products, and my hope is that I will continue to be able to afford it. All of these online periodical databases keep getting better and better. It is truly amazing how much outstanding information is available to students and staff doing research than there was even ten years ago!