K12 Online Conference

As are many edtech teacher geeks, I’m really looking forward to the next 2 weeks’ K12 Online Conference! What an amazing world we live in that people from all over the globe can be excited about this virtual event!

I’ll probably blog more later about it, but I just wanted to say that Lisa Durff’s blog post today made me laugh. She listed the 6 descriptors that David Warlick suggests identify today’s students’ different learning styles, and she commented:

today’s learners are a new breed. I see myself in that list, bolstering my idea that I am not a digital immigrant, but an illegal digital alien.

I haven’t deconstructed that to see what exactly it is that makes us illegal aliens, but I do feel a bit like that myself somehow, Ms. Durff! Funny observation!

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Online Connections

Wow! I read about Jennifer Dorman’s Online Connections class on Cool Cat Teacher Blog this morning and took a quick look at it. Wow! Dorman has used the web 2.0 tools that we have all learned about over the past few months and taken this course to a whole new global level. Her course has a global slant that we know is important for the 21st century. I wanted to mention it on my blog so I don’t forget to go back and look it over more carefully. It really looks primo.

Unblocked! Amazing!

Wow!! I’m surprised and happy that my district has unblocked my blog so that other librarians in my district can access it from school! WooHoo!

That’s a good sign. Maybe districts are beginning to decide that these web 2.0 tools are not evil unto themselves. They’re tools that our children are going to use–they do now–and we had better have access to them so that educators have a fighting chance to learn how to use them too and be there to guide them! Hooray for making small steps!

Google Sky–Wow!

Looks like another wow application from Google–Google Sky ! You can even use it within the Google Earth application! Looks like they have done what they did with Google Earth and created an application that stitches together the body of knowledge about the universe–in pictures. It’s all very smooth and swoopy! Cool! I’ve only just downloaded it and haven’t really gotten to play with it, but it looks like a powerful tool to use with students (and me too!) learning about the solar system.

Good info page about Google Sky is here. More here with screencast. Looks cool!

Special Hi To My Local Colleagues

Today our district librarian (AR) introduced the SLL2.0 program to the rest of my fellow librarians to see if any of them might be interested in exploring it together as a group. I thought I’d say welcome to any of you that might be exploring my blog to see what it’s all about. Look back over previous posts too. Leave me a comment on a post if you come by so I’ll know you’ve been here!

Just about everything that you see on this blog along the right side is an element that I learned about through exploring a “Thing” in the SLL2.0 program. You can learn about all of these Things too–and do it a little more slowly during the school year than I did it this summer. AR said the district cohort would be doing the program in 9 months rather than 9 weeks–so the pace won’t be so frantic. It is a self-paced program anyway, so the only pressure is what you put on yourself!

Why participate in SLL2.0?
Warlick states that, in a world where the future is not certain, the most valuable skill we can foster in our young people is that of lifelong learning. Today we may not be able to accurately predict what our students’ future careers, environments or even social structures will be like, but if we have taught them to learn new things for themselves when they need to, then we have done our jobs!

The web 2.0 tools that are explored in the SLL2.0 course are the tools that our children use to connect–to information, to entertainment, to ideas, to each other. These are the tools that they are using today. I think I should at least know about them!

Additionally, these tools are showing up in numerous forms within traditional information channels too. Bloggers now get national coverage & audience at political events. They’re quoted on the evening news! CNN’s IReport seeks and uses viewers’ videos of news events. Almost every news outlet on the Internet has a Comments function so their patrons can make their opinion known to the world. These are all web2.0 tools. They bring people together. They promote conversation and rethinking and debating.

Lastly, I must say that I found many of the tools, sites, applications and ideas explored in SLL2.0 just plain cool! Week 5 is just a blast–you’ll learn about online photo sharing sites, creative sites like Scrapblog, art and design sites and lots more. Just fun stuff!

If you find that this program is just not your bag, that’s ok too! I think you’ll learn something useful if you give it a try though. It’s a chance to practice/model that skill of lifelong learning.

Last Thought for Today…I Promise!
I believe that librarians and the school library really do help form the true heart of a school community. I also fear that our talents (librarians’) will be marginalized as schools rush to do the popular, flashy thing with students where information technology is concerned. Librarians must be part of the conversation when it comes to accessing, evaluating and using information–it’s what we know! We have a unique perspective that is vital to our students.
We must remain at the heart of the school for tomorrow’s kids.

Week 9 Thing #20 YouTube

In several previous posts, I embedded videos from various sources, so I think I’ve covered this “Thing” already in my blog. Although I do enjoy the occasional cute kitten video or funny political video from YouTube, I must admit that most of it is not classroom material.

I will say that TeacherTube is a GREAT site for educators though. Our district seems to be particularly conservative as far as which web sites are allowed, and even WE can get to TeacherTube from school! At least it wasn’t blocked earlier in the summer–we’ll see if that sticks! That’s good news though, because I’ve found many videos there that are worth sharing. While it doesn’t have nearly the number of videos on it, most of them are more usable for the classroom than what proliferates on YouTube.

What I think is more exciting, is the idea of these video sharing sites–the impact they and a whole Web2.0 mentality are having on the wider culture. In the recent Democratic Presidential debate and the upcoming Republican Debate, CNN and YouTube are working to combine their resources to allow people to ask candidates questions by video online. The Democrats even ended up taking a question from a sock puppet. Wow. Now, not surprisingly, many of the Republican candidates are refusing to “play along.”

I think it’s all very interesting that we happen to be immersed in thinking about these web tools, and here they are making national news in this way. I wonder what the final outcome will be? Will the Democrats ultimately pay the price for catering to the “cool” crowd? Will the Republicans stoically refuse to embrace this new technology and end up paying the price instead? Will it all just blow over and turn out to be a non-issue? Or is this truly a cultural turning point as to how, and how immediately, candidates have to respond to their (potential) constituents? Interesting times…

Week 6 Thing#14

I’m exploring Technorati again for this Thing. I have spent some time here in the past, but I always come away thinking I’m missing parts–I’m trying to fill in the gaps. One thing that I always forget to do is tag my posts, so I’m going to try to remember to do a better job at that.

The Discovery Exercise had us search for terms using various advanced features. I found that “school library learning 2.0” gets the results I wanted–can’t forget the quotations–and the Quick View is a very handy element!

Obviously, tagging is the element that makes it possible for the “social” part of web2.0 to take place. It’s the reason that we can find cool photos on flickr that are that certain shade of blue, how we can find others with similar interests–it’s how virtual community building is made easy and convenient. It’s very powerful, and since you can tag your work with as many tags as you want to, it is flexible too. And for the most part it works amazingly well. Tagging is perhaps the most powerful aspect of this new (to me and my fellow school library 2.0 learners) world.

However, the librarian in me (geeky, I know) also sees the limitations that come with such a non-standardized cataloging system. I found posts tagged with misspellings, with or without spaces, etc. These nonstandard tags (most of them mistakes) render that piece of work on the web invisible–that’s the fly in the ointment. Just a reminder for myself to tag carefully and try to think like the person that might be searching for my work so I use effective tags.

Week 6 Thing #13

This activity for School Library Learning 2.0 deals with social bookmarking, tagging, and Deli.icio.us in particular. Del.icio.us is one of my favorite web2.0 tools–I use it all the time! As I go through this activity, I am learning more about how I can organize my bookmarks (by bundling the tags), and just how the “social” part of the idea of social bookmarking works. Now I just need to carve out the time and actually prune and organize my bookmarks better!

I have found a couple of interesting links on the SLL2.0 page –one is
5 Ways to Mark Up the Web . This article discusses various ways to annotate web pages and share your thoughts with a work group or class–I’ve tried Trailfire, and I can see how it would be very useful in the classroom because you could have students follow your trail from site to site and your Trailfire “notes” could help them know what to study/where to go on each page. Particularly useful with younger students or special needs students. The problem (as always) is that you have to sign in to use it, and we’ll probably not be able to do that at school.

As for the use of Del.icio.us at school, of course I see how the social or interactive aspect of the site is an added value to other more “traditional” sites like MyBookmarks , but frankly, I’m not entirely sure we are able to get to it through our school filter either. I’ll have to check next time I’m up there. I suspect that many of these Web2.0 tools that we’re looking at in this program are a half-step ahead of what our IT department is ready to allow us to do at school. I think it’s getting less restrictive bit by bit in our district, but I’m still stymied many times when I want to use a cool new tool and then find that it’s filtered out at work.

Week 5 Thing #11 3rd entry!

What great timing! I subscribe to Joyce Valenza’s SLJ blog and yesterday’s post was an extensive list of Web 2.0 tools and how these tools might be used in the classroom/library.

Many of the tools she discusses are the same ones that we’ve explored, however there are some additional ones too! Take a look!
Her list is in 2 blog posts: here and here .

Week 5 Thing #10 v2

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more
Created on Image Chef

Of the several image generators that I tried, I really liked Image Chef and Hetemeel the best. All of them were easy to use though, and easy to post into my blog. As far as using these with students, I’m fairly certain that they will be blocked by our filter at school. If they’re not, I think students would have fun creating cartoons/signs, etc. The big problem will be copyright for comic strip characters or images of celebrities though–we must keep good judgement about copyright in mind–fair use or not!

Some of the generators allow users to upload their own photos though–this would be fun and less of a copyright worry.

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