Category Archives: Web 2.0

How Delicious it was

The words from Big yellow taxi come to mind

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone

That’s how it’s suddenly hit me with the news about Yahoo terminating the popular social bookmarking  site, Delicious. I haven’t felt this disappointed since Ning stopped free service. Delicious was one of the first Web 2.0 tools I used and raved about to other people. Not only an extremely efficient way to save links and render them searchable via tagging, but also a very transparent way to follow what other people are reading and saving.

I’m slow off the mark with this post; so many people have already tweeted and blogged their despair but it’s taking a while to settle in. At first I thought, oh well, I still have Diigo. And actually, I’ve been sending my links to Delicious via Diigo for some time since it’s so easy to use Diigo’s bookmarklet for recording essential information, and since, like others, I’ve used the automatic Diigo to Delicious function.

But then today I decided to have a look at my Delicious and realised how easy it is to see what people in your network are reading and saving. The beauty of Delicious is in the Network. Not only can I see what someone in my network is reading and saving, I can see an alphabetical listing of their tags, their tag bundles and their lists. This means I have an insight into the way their thinking, what’s important to them, the direction they’re taking.

And now I’m lamenting not using Delicious as well as I should have. Why didn’t I use tag bundles or make lists? Typical that I’d want to start now that Delicious is on its last legs.

Seriously, many people have written about the demise of Delicious with informative alternatives. I like Anne Mirtschin’s post. Anne’s not a whinger like me; she’s a postive, forward thinking person who remains open to future possibilities.

Just the other day, when Anne read on Twitter that @ggrosseck and I were wondering if we could trust cloud applications, if we  should stop promoting Web 2.0 tools to colleagues, Anne responded with her characteristically unwavering conviction:

“Never any guarantee on the future of any Web 2.0 but will always be alternative”.

Wise words, Anne, very true.

Good luck, everyone, in exporting your Delicious bookmarks and finding alternatives.

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Filed under 21st century learning, Social media, technology, Web 2.0

Technology brings back the village doctor

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Thanks for Gabriela Grosseck for the link to the video.

This little talk grabbed my attention.

Arna Ionescu talks about change in the delivery of health care, but she may as well be talking about change in education.
Yes, Google has an immense store of information, but how do you make the decisions as to the right course of action? Just as health care is built on a foundation that’s personal and caring, so is learning. We accept information from sources we trust, but more often from people we know and trust.
Arna mentions the nostalgia surrounding the family doctor of the past. I often think that today’s personal and professional learning networks are moving closer to the notion of the family doctor. We feel more confident asking people we know than following a Google link.
Arna also talks about using technology to channel the motivational people in our lives -technology as the enabler that allows personal and human touch to spread; technology as a conduit.


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Filed under technology, Web 2.0

Interview with Judith Way, author of Bright Ideas

If you think about people who are a constant and inspirational support in your professional life, you know that you are indebted to these people on a daily basis.


I’ve decided to feature an interview with Judith Way, a Victorian teacher librarian who has made a significant difference in the professional lives of teacher librarians and others, and whose unassuming, friendly nature has endeared many, both in Victoria and globally.

Judith’s blog, Bright Ideas, which she writes for the School Library Association of Victoria, is one of the first things I check daily because I know that she is on top of what’s happening in the world of education. Although she may not need an introduction since so many are connected to her through the blog, Twitter and OZTL-NET, to mention only a few platforms, I’ve included a short biography as an introduction to a recent interview I conducted with Judith.

Judith Way is a teacher-librarian with a Graduate Diploma of Children’s Literature and a Master of Arts. Recently she was recognised for her work with the Bright Ideas blog through the  2010 IASL/Softlink International Excellence Award .She has also been the recipient of the School Library Association of Victoria’s John Ward Award for outstanding contribution to teacher librarianship in 2007 and the SLAV Innovators Grant in 2009. She was awarded the Children’s Book Council of Australia Eleanor E. Robertson prize in 2003. She has presented at conferences locally and internationally. Judith writes the Bright Ideas blog for the School Library Association of Victoria.
How did you come to create and write the Bright Ideas blog?

Due to the success of the School Library Association of Victoria’s Web2.0 online program in 2008, there was a real momentum for more online resources for school libraries, and the idea that schools would showcase what they had developed to encourage others was a big part of that. I was honoured to be asked by SLAV to write the blog on their behalf. I had undertaken the ’23 things’ course through Yarra Plenty Regional Library in 2006.

What were your initial thoughts/feelings about the blog?

Excitement! What a fantastic opportunity to delve into the web 2.0 world and see what we could all make of it in school libraries.

Was it difficult to take the first steps in creating a blog identity and developing a readership?

The first thing was getting a body of work up on the blog. No-one is really going to read a blog with one or two posts on it, so building it up was vital. I then promoted it via the OZTL-NET listserv and down the track joined Twitter. That really developed the readership. Then I joined the ILearnTechnology blog alliance in January this year and that furthered readership again.

What were some of the difficulties you experienced along the way?

School library staff tend to be a modest bunch, so encouraging people that their web 2.0 efforts should be highlighted and shared with others was a challenge.

What were some of the highlights?

Getting lots of positive feedback from readers, especially in relation tothe school library examples that were shared.
Last year Bright Ideas also had the honour of being voted the “FirstRunner Up” in the Edublogs Awards for the ‘Best Library blog”. What a fantastic vote of confidence that was.
Notching up 200,000 hits earlier this year was also a terrific milestone and it was an unbelievable recognition to be awarded the 2010 IASL/Softlink International Excellence Award in September.

How is the role of the teacher librarian changing, if at all?

In one way it is changing dramatically. In another way, it isn’t changing at all. What do I mean by that? We are facing enormous changes in the way we present learning opportunities to students. Social media and eBooks have changed the landscape for many school libraries. But we still want to teach our students how to research well and to love reading- whatever the medium.

What would you say are the most important goals of the teacher librarian/ of educators in general in these times?

To remember the power you have to make a difference to the lives of your students. You have the ability to be a positive role model in terms of using information well, both content and morally. To teach students how to make a positive digital footprint and how to be cybersafe and cybersavvy. To pass on the love of reading. These are lessons they will carry throughout their lives.

Thanks, Judith, for your thoughts, and also for the untiring support you provide for teacher librarians and educators everywhere.

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Filed under Education, network literacy, networking, Teacher librarians, teachers, technology, Web 2.0

When are students leaders and experts? Listen2Learners @ State Library of Victoria

When are students leaders and experts?

When we hand over the stage to them to play in.

When we give them more to do than listen to us.

When we trust them to be responsible and capable.

Yesterday I saw evidence of this at The State Library of Victoria’s Listen2Learners. Thirteen school teams, some collaborative, presented their learning to adults. They were articulate, intelligent, knowledgeable and impressive. The buzz in the room was palpable.

Young people may be learners today, but tomorrow they are employees, employers, citizens, CEOs and community leaders so decision makers in government, business, industry and the social arena are taking notice of how young people learn with technology.

What young people think and have to say is helping to shape decisions and inform policies.

I was impressed and excited by the showcase of what kids – many of them primary – can do given meaningful, collaborative, real-life projects and connected through technologies to learn from and with real people. My excitement was tempered by the thought of them entering secondary school, the fear that this freedom to learn would be taken away from them due to a fear of technology and the restrictive nature of a score-centred curriculum.

The groups showcased a variety of focus, approach and location. Sacred Heart School, Tasmania collaborated with Pularumpi School, Northern Territory. A student from the Tasmanian school said that the best part of the project was meeting the other students, learning about how different people and places can be in your own country. They worked in Google docs, online social networks, and used Skype to communicate and collaborate.

Students from Prospect Primary School, South Australia, became teachers when they reversed roles to show more than 70 teachers and school leaders how to produce a movie.

Their work had all the hallmarks of good teaching and learning; planning and storyboarding, brainstorming an authentic enquiry question, setting assessment criteria, modelling and coaching.

Students ran an online radio station, they demonstrated how rural schools connect for the best science education, created video games, prepared a cybersafety program for incoming primary students for orientation day, created applications to help users develop numeracy skills, used technology to learn instruments and play in online bands, designed a Multi-user Virtual Environment (MUVE), connected with students from around the world in virtual classrooms, and more.

It was extraordinary to see what these young students were capable of doing, and inspiring to witness their passion, engagement and enjoyment.

These kids really knew what they were talking about. They had to ask the hard questions throughout the process, and in many cases they had to provide written applications for a place on the team. They knew what they were talking about because they worked through the process and were engaged, not because they had listened to what they teacher had told them or studied a text. When I listened to these kids it was obvious that they had worked through the what/how/why and understood the thinking around and inside their project and process.

This was by far the most inspiring learning opportunity for me this year. And, to boot, I got the opportunity to chat with Stephen Heppell.

Read about the schools taking part in this event.

 

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Filed under 21st century learning, Collaboration, creativity, Digital citizenship, Education, network literacy, networking, Web 2.0

Nicholas Carr at The Wheeler Centre: We’re drowning in the shallows

Last night I attended a talk by Nicholas Carr at The Wheeler Centre.

One of the world’s most ground-breaking and thought-provoking writers on technology and its impacts talks to Gideon Haigh. The celebrated journalist and author of The Shallows, presents his arguments about how the internet’s pervasive influence is fostering ignorance.

Nicholas Carr has a point: the internet is addictive; there’s so much to investigate and dip into, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to move from A to Z without darting off into various directions along the way, and you may not even get there at all.

The pioneering neuroscientist Michael Merzenich believes our brains are being ”massively remodelled” by our ever-intensifying use of the web and related media.

I’m not even going to go into the topic of brain rewiring, but I think that if our neural pathways can change depending on the nature of our activity, then we are still not doomed as long as we don’t turn into robots.

It is possible, though, that we might be at risk of losing our ability to focus on any one thing in a deep way, what with so much clamouring for our attention and our focus being diffused  through a myriad of hyperlinks.  And this is worth thinking about especially in the context of school education.

However, during Nicholas’ talk and subsequent question time, I realized that the culprit for the loss of deep concentration, defined loosely as either ‘the internet’ or technology,  was being bandied about in a disconcerting way, and that it is important to define exactly which activities on the internet we are talking about when we start blaming ‘the internet’ for rewiring of neural pathways and even ignorance.

Nicholas Carr referred repeatedly to online activites such as those on Facebook, Twitter and instant messaging/chat, when he spoke of distractions which prevented us from deeper concentration and understanding. He was using a broad brush to paint a picture of what the internet has to offer,  focusing on the more superficial exchanges as if this was all there was to the internet. Gideon Haigh, the presenter, jumped on the bandwagon and made a disparaging remark about Web 2.0 in education, saying that Facebook and Twitter were hardly learning – and he got an applause for that remark. It was obvious that the audience were not all on the same page. How is it that ‘the internet’ is limited to the more superficial social media? And please, inform yourselves before you judge technology as the cause of lower academic performance. Technology and the internet are only as good as the people who use them, and that is always about educated and intelligent teaching.

From  my own experience, it’s clear to me that the introduction of new technologies requires support, not only how to use these technologies, but also the thinking behind pedagogy – how to use these technologies  to enhance learning, not to tick off boxes for technology use. Obviously technology without the support is going to mean a backwards movement.

If the internet –  and Nicholas Carr also mentioned ebooks with the distractions of hyperlinks and commenting, online research, and multimedia –  if all these things are responsible for the loss of deep concentration, then why don’t we blame television for distracting us from serious novel reading, and why not blame popular music (and the radio) for taking away generations from an appreciation of more serious music and the ability to listen to a long ‘classical’ music performance? Even years ago how could we compete with Sesame Street when teaching young children in the traditional way?

If Nicholas laments the quietness which, he claims, is conducive to deeper thought and concentration, solitude even, then we should really retire to a convent and possibly an Amish community, so that there is no electricity to enable all these distractions.

I know that’s a little extreme but really – aren’t we being a little purist? Who are the people who focus deeply on reading? Are we talking about a scholarly article or book, because then we are talking about academics, not those of us who prefer to sit in front of the television for light entertainment after a long day.

As one of the guys in our computer centre said to me recently – by encouraging teachers to use the internet, aren’t you leading them along the path to addiction, and what will happen to stillness?

I think ‘stillness’ disappeared long ago even with the advent of radio and television. Yes, modern technologies are more mobile, more interactive, more engaging, but aren’t we in control of our online behavior? And if not, we should be. Pick out the wheat from the chaff, or teach yourself to do it. And if you want stillness, perhaps you should consider monasticism.

So Nicholas, before you say that what we need is money going into good teachers instead of into technology in education, please do your homework. Why should the two be mutually exclusive? We have always needed good teachers but we also need teachers who prepare kids for their world. And like it or not, that world is connected. More than ever we need to understand what engages young people and how they learn and socialize, so that we realize the power of social learning. Not because we think Facebook is the answer but because we think Skyping a class from the other side of the world and engaging in authentic conversation is more engaging and informative than reading from a textbook. Because we think that choice and hands-on creativity is more productive than passive learning. Because we find experts all over the world, and not just in the teacher who happens to be standing in front of the class.

I was amused that Carr quoted a 6th century bishop, Isaac of Syria, when he said that our furtive internet behavior was responsible for the permanent loss of the capacity for dream-like concentration:

“With prolonging of this silence,” wrote Isaac, “the turmoil of memories is stilled in my heart, ceaseless waves of joy are sent me by inner thoughts, beyond expectation suddenly arising to delight my heart.”

Bishop Isaac of Syria was a monk, an ascetic. The silence he speaks of is no doubt the silence that comes with private prayer and monastic isolation. Should we then go back to eating in silence while we listen to the readings of the lives of saints?

Finally, Carr discovers shocking statistics about multi-taskers. New research shows that multi-tasking results in poor comprehension. I say there is a difference between multitasking well and dividing your attention between too many things and not doing any of them well. Definitions, people! Let’s not be sloppy with our definitions, let’s be specific when we judge an activity such as multitasking, or something like ‘the internet’.  It’s just as easy to blame the internet as it is to blame society. As Alison Croggon says

The internet is whatever we make it. It isn’t an abstraction: it’s the collective creation of millions of individual human beings.

To conclude, if Nicholas Carr has decided to take a break from being connected 24/7, then rejoined online life after discerning what was valuable and what wasn’t, then isn’t this just part of the evaluative process we should all be going through? Aren’t we doing that already? As teachers, isn’t that part of our job in forming critical thinkers?

I am reminded of the episode about ‘the Internet’ on the IT Crowd. Seems appropriate for today’s post.

Nicholas Carr’s latest book, The Shallows,  is worth reading – or skimming…

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Filed under debate, internet, network literacy, Social media, teachers, teaching, technology, Web 2.0

TinEye – a revolutionary image search engine

There’s no doubt about it, TinEye is a great find for image use:

TinEye is a reverse image search engine. It finds out where an image came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist, or if there is a higher resolution version.

TinEye claims to be responsible for ‘changing the face of media search’. It claims to do for images what Google does for text. I don’t know about you but I’ve been waiting for something like this for ages.  Now you can locate your image on websites all over the internet.

Searching your image:

Instead of searching by keyword, you either upload an image from your computer or provide a link to that image. It only takes a few seconds for the results to appear. The first images listed are the ones which are the closest match to the searched image. As you go further down the list, you find edited images – interesting in itself.

You can compare any of the matched images to your image by clicking compare and then switch. In some cases it’s a colour/tone difference or else the image has been modified. The link under the image will take you to the page of the result. It’s great if you are looking for a different size, eg  a better resolution.

There is an option to share the image via Twitter, Facebook, email or an extensive list of other ways. I’m so spoiled with sharing options that when I’m unable to share easily I get really frustrated.

With TinEye you can sort the order of your search by:

  • best match
  • most changed
  • biggest image.

You can also install browser plugins if you like.

If you register with TinEye you can contribute to the forum. I have a feeling this site will be growing, and I wonder how many copy-cat sites will be created now.

Have a play! I’m going to think about educational possibilities using the TinEye image search. As always the technology opens up to options powered by human imagination and innovation.

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Filed under 21st century learning, Web 2.0

Facebook’s wall a consolation in death

People use social media for different purposes. The wall of Joseph McLellan’s Facebook is a touching tribute to the loving relationship between him and those family and friends who have survived him. Joseph McLellan, Archimandrite Joasaph, left this world too early for those who love him. And yet his Facebook wall is still a living noticeboard posted with regular notes to him.

I knew Fr Joasaph in my first year of marriage when I accompanied my husband to Jordanville, upstate New York, in his third year of seminary. He was a year ahead of my husband, and although I lived there for nine months only, Fr Joasaph clearly made an impression because my memories of him, his academic brilliance, his talents and wonderful sense of humour remain clear.

It was on Facebook that my husband and I were reunited with Fr Joasaph after a lengthy lapse in communication. At a time when I heard many people criticise those who ‘wasted their time’ on Facebook, we were enjoying the ease with which it allowed us easy communication with those who lived far from us.

In the short period of Facebook friendship, we learned that Joseph had decided to leave Princeton University where he had been teaching Russian and enter into monasticism, moving through the ranks of ordination quickly and being elevated to the rank of archimandrite. At the time we didn’t know of his illness and wondered what the rush was.

In December 2009 we joined many others in expressing our grief at his passing, and in expressing our condolences to his family.

And now his Facebook remains open. Family and friends continue to ‘talk to him’, to remember him, to console each other.

I open his Facebook page on and off to see how he continues to live through the comments of those who still love him. I hope it stays open forever.

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Filed under Social media, Web 2.0