Tag Archives: socialnetworking

Blogs are NOT airy-fairy, soul-searching, self-indulgent

You know how you can’t let some things go?

Well, the back of my mind is often processing ways to demonstrate to people the value of reading and writing blogs. Recently I read an educator’s comments about introducing teachers to Web 2.0 practices, where he says he wouldn’t start with blogging, but provide teachers with examples of great blogs to read. Often people considering blogging will say that they don’t know what to blog about. It’s a bit like a student getting an open essay topic; it’s difficult because it’s undefined. That’s why reading blogs of people who share your interests is a good starting point for new bloggers or even sceptics. What I’m actually saying is – you don’t know what you’re missing – there are people out there who are really worth knowing, in all parts of the world and in many spheres of life and occupation.

John Connell linked to a series of blog networking interviews by Lilia Efimova in his post about passionate bloggers. People whose blogs centred around knowledge management topics were interviewed by Lilia about how they used blogs for networking. What’s particularly interesting is the variety of backgrounds represented. Lilia’s interviews covered the following:

  • professional background of a participant and characteristics of her network in KM field prior to blogging
  • changes in the network or networking practices because of blogging
  • uses of weblogs for developing, maintaining and activating relations as a starting point for articulating stages of the process at more granular level
  • place of the weblog in the ecosystem of networking tools (mainly focusing on what weblogs are good for and when they do not work).
  • important networking-related issues that haven’t been discussed

Here are some examples:

Brett Miller, a system engineer, says

 “I know more people in different areas of KM when I knew before.” Blogging helped him to reach people he wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise.

Dave Snowden is a founder and a Chief Scientific Officer of Cognitive Edge, a consulting company focusing on complexity, sense-making and narratives. He was formerly a director of IBM Institute of Knowledge Management and founder of the Cynefin Centre for organisational complexity. He has about 50 science bloggers in his RSS reader.

“They scan journals for me, so I don’t have myself … I’ve learnt to trust them over the years … it’s much better than summarisation surface”.

Euan Semple is an independent advisor for social computing for business (www.euansemple.com). He started blogging with his personal weblog The Obvious. He says:

“Previously I was subject to geographical constraints or social constraints or organisational constraints as of who I was likely to meet and suddenly with online networks I’ve been able to connect to […] the whole bunch of interesting and interested people whom I suddenly had an access to in a way in a normal life I would never ever had that chance. I could then establish relationships and (and again something I get very hot about) is that these are not pretend or unreal or virtual relationship, the real relationship, where you build up trust and affect and those powerful things that make people work together. Online.”

And also:

[Blogging] is “a collective pointing that helps to find stuff, once you have an established group of bloggers you read and trust. And their ability to find a good stuff to point to it, increases your signal to noise ratio on the web … Blogs do that better than other tools because of the context – you have to say why that is important, why are you pointing to something”.

Luis Suarez works at IBM as social software evangelist. He is located in Spain, but travels frequently for his work. He says:

Weblogs allow you to get beyond what people publish and to get as sense of what a person is like – to build a profile of a person as a person, not a business entity. Not how long you have been married, but how people write articles. When you write a blogpost you are giving yourself out as a person. The line between life and work is going to disappear.

The question of blogs developing trust is an interesting one. Luis says that trust is developed through a ‘willingness to expose what you don’t know’, and ‘a willingness to learn not yet finished thinking’ or ‘taking a radical position that invites criticism’, ‘being brave and bold’. He added that ‘there is something special about somebody coming to your place to leave their words there’.

Talking about changes in professional network as a result of blogging, Monica Andre, who worked in a research lab in Lisbon focusing on information behaviour and information management, says:

“I didn’t realise that linking and giving credits to someone’s work would extend my professional network extended very quickly.” She then told a story of being contacted by a municipality government from Spain who wanted her to speak at an event. “I didn’t know I was followed by them. If [people] leave comments, you have a clue, a footprint. It turns out that guy who was reading my blog suggested the government that I would be a good person to talk as a keynote speaker”. When she received an email she thought it was a joke, but they called to confirm.

These are only a few examples of what people had to say about blogging in Lilia’s interviews, just to whet your appetite. You can read all interview summaries on Lilia Efimova’s blog Mathemagenic.

It’s difficult to ‘convert’ people to reading and writing blogs and to online networking in general for a variety of reasons I’ve spoken about many times in previous posts. It may be as difficult as religious or political conversion. To those of you reading this post, I’m preaching to the converted, I know. So please tell me, have you had successful experiences in converting those resistant to blogging that you would like to share?

7 Comments

Filed under 21st century learning, Education, internet, learning, teachers, teaching, technology, Web 2.0

Why blogging is a selfish activity


This image compliments of Dean Shareski

One of the things that made me pause for thought during the PLP Kickoff yesterday, was when Will Richardson and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach told us to participate in the NING environment just for ourselves for the time being.

I was talking to someone recently and we were discussing how blogging and participating in Web 2.0 applications is such a joy for educators because it’s feeding us. Teaching can be exhausting. Teachers are giving non-stop but not always replenishing their own supplies. The best part about learning through connected networks, Twitter, NINGs,etc. is that you get so much out of what others put out there. It’s the interconnectivity (long word for connection, I think) that is so good for you. And so much choice, you don’t know where to start. If you don’t refuel, you eventually stop.

We need to be selfish, that is, to feed ourselves as well as our students. To take time to read, think, discuss and wait before giving out. That’s not as selfish as it sounds. Fact is, when we’re bursting with ideas from meaningful interaction with others, people around us can’t fail to see this. Modelling Web 2.0 functioning is like sending sparks out.

3 Comments

Filed under Education, Teacher librarians, teaching, Web 2.0

Web 2.0 supermarket – let’s go shopping!

There’s a veritable cornucopia of Web 2.0 goodies on this site. It’s the Web 2.0 comprehensive directory to a TON of social networking sites presented by Jake McAuley from GO2WEB20.net THE BOOK. This is version 2 updated 16/09/2008.

Here are some applications I thought might be useful just from the first few pages.

1K: Read and Write Short Stories
1000Keyboards is a website created for writers to submit, share, critique and communicate in an environment tuned to promote growth and exposure.
http://1000keyboards.com
Tags: share,create,communication

12 seconds : Share Short Videos
12seconds.tv allows friends and family to record and share short video updates about what they are doing or where they are. You can use a webcam or a cellphone. It’s a free, easy, and fun way to stay in touch.
http://12seconds.tv
Tags: video,TV,webcam,mobile

22 Books : Create and Share A List of your Favorite Books
22books is dedicated to the creating, sharing, and viewing of book lists. Start out by browsing some of the featured lists to the left and then open a free account and start creating lists of your own.
http://www.22books.com
Tags: book,share,list

280 slides : Create & Share Presentations Online
Create beautiful presentations, access them from anywhere, and share them with the world. With 280 Slides, there’s no software to download and nothing to pay for – and when you’re done building your presentation you can share it any way you like.
http://280slides.com
Tags: presentation,create,build

3D Package : 3D Box Maker
3d package is a 3d-box graphic generator. 3d package lets you instantly create 3d-boximages online, free. Just upload pictures for cover and sides and then get 3d-box in you favorite imageformat (JPG, GIF, PNG supported). Post them in your blog or anywhere else.
http://280slides.com
Tags: generator,3D,package

5min : Life Videopedia
5min is a place to find short video solutions for any practical question and a forum for people wanting to share their knowledge. 5min aims is to create the first communal Life Videopedia allowing users from all over the globe to contribute their knowledge by sharing visual guides covering variety of subjects.
http://www.5min.com/
Tags: knowledge,video,share,tool,Israel

99 Polls : Free Online Web Polls Generator
99Polls offers a simple approach to making Web Polls, which you can post nearly anywhere on the Web. 99Polls.com poll-creation tool requires no knowledge of HTML or coding, and once made, the poll can be posted on blogs, Web sites, and social-networking profiles such as: MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, Xanga and more…
http://www.99polls.com
Tags: poll,generator,social,Israel

All That : The Search that Never Stops
Allth.at will keep looking for your item on the sites you select and report new search results back to you. You can also choose to have new results emailed to you or, you can subscribe to the RSS feed and have your new search results delivered right to your RSS reader.
http://allth.at
Tags: search,engine,track

Alltop : All the Top Stories Covered all the Time
Alltop is a directory of stories from the most popular blogs on the Internet. Updated constantly.
http://alltop.com
Tags: content,link,aggregator

And I’m only selecting from the A list. This list will boggle your mind, distract you from the task at hand, and possibly ruin your relationships. Browse at own risk.

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, photos, Web 2.0

Digital media is no longer an option – it’s a necessity

John Connell’s post ‘Literacy, Postliteracy, Modes of Expression….and a real Guitar Hero!’ raises the very important topic of digital literacies.  John Connell said that

the process of democratization of expression that is inherent in the development of the Web means that we now have available to us low-cost tools that allow us to express ourselves creatively in media that were previously unavailable to most because the barriers to entry were too high.

 Jenny Luca commented:

I recognise that my students respond to visual media today far more than they do print based.

In response to discussion about what constituted literacy, Hilery commented

A literate person can mediate his or her world by deliberately and flexibly orchestrating meaning from one linguistic knowledge base and apply or connect it to another knowledge base. The definition of literacy is dynamic, evolving, and reflects the continual changes in our society: not least the very real political challenges to the status…

(I love this definition, and wish that I could link to Hilery so I could read more of what she has to say).
Two very interesting things to ponder: what is literacy? and do we need to redefine it? (ok, two and a half);
and is digital literacy just an added dimension, or is it something more vital?
Jess from the United Kingdom put me onto a recent article by James Paul Gee and Michael H. Levine on Innovation Strategies for Learning in a Global Age.  The authors identify a newly emerging digital participation gap, and talk about competencies needed to succeed in a global age which can be developed through the ‘untapped power of interactive media’. The report also states that, apart from the reading gap between richer and poorer students, there is, more recently, another gap – between students who have mastered digital media and those who haven’t. Interesting to see these two problematic areas identified side by side, because both are needed to function competently in the 21st century. I’m sticking my neck out here but in Australia, at least, digital literacies are still way behind more traditional literacies; they’re seen in many cases as an extra dimension, and often as irrelevant in government schools which are not funded for functionality in an online world. In equipped schools, however, teachers’ training for technology remains limited, and they are often reluctant for trained teachers or teacher librarians to provide support. (There are several reasons for this, but I won’t go into them in this post). Or they’re unaware of the need for this support, eg. technology-based activities are unsupported and unscaffolded. The situation baffles me still. The article expresses this very eloquently:

Mastery of digital media for the production of knowledge constitutes a new family of “digital literacies,” since such media, like print before them, are tools for the production of meaning. For a student to fully leverage all the possibilities for learning and knowledge production to be found on the Internet, he or she must learn how to access, assess, and modify the plethora of information available. These skills don’t just develop on their own. They require mentoring and teaching, especially for children who come from families unable to provide this at home. So the digital gap is not just a matter of who has access to technology. More important, it is about who has access to well-designed learning systems and mentorship built around new digital technologies.

There’s so much that’s spot-on in this article. It cites digital media as naturally eliciting problem-solving behaviour and attitudes, and as enabling the solving of real-world problems. Fact is, as acknowledged in the article, we all know that young people’s digital involvement outside of school has been impressive:

In fact, children are already using digital environments and tools to join learning communities and become experts. Many use the Internet, communication media, digital tools, and membership in often virtual, sometimes real, communities of practice to develop technical expertise in different areas. These include video games, digital storytelling, fan fiction, music, graphic art, political commentary, robotics, anime, and nearly every other endeavor the human mind can think of. Their informal process of learning, collaboration, and transforming passion into knowledge is desperately needed in schools today.

Finally, there is the suggestion for a way forward: an indepth examination of the benefits of digital media; tech-savvy teachers training others; literacy assessments measuring problem-solving skills. Is there any research about the benefits of digital media – apart from well written articles? Because if there is, then we need to drag it out of the filing cabinet and bring it to the attention of educators and education specialists.

6 Comments

Filed under Education, Teacher librarians, Web 2.0

Art Education 2.0

Art Education 2.0 is a global community of art educators exploring uses of new technology.

Art Education 2.0 is for art educators at all levels who are interested in using digital technologies to enhance and transform art teaching and learning experiences. The aim of Art Education 2.0 is to explore ways of using technology to promote effective art education practices, encourage cultural exchanges and joint creative work, and support artistic projects, curricular activities, and professional development opportunities deemed important by our members.

When you sign up, you can avail yourself of all the usual socialnetworking options, for example, you can invite friends, upload photos or videos, or start a discussion. At a glance from the homepage you can see current projects, forum discussions and recent blog posts. The format is well organised and easy to read, eg. the post ‘Sir Ken Robinson & creative thinking’ , a post about Ken Robinson’s well-known TED talk, ‘Are schools killing creativity?’, is followed by several clearly displayed comments. I suppose, what I’m trying to say, is that it’s all there, and it’s easy and enjoyable to browse. A late night for me recently while I explored the blogroll – always dangerous to jump into hyperlinks, branching out evermore into oblivion.

New Web 2.0 resources in the right-hand navigation offer such delicacies as Andrew Douch’s video on the benefits of podcasting; Vizu, an interactive poll that can be added to a website or blog; 12 seconds, where you can record and share short videos about what you’re doing or where you are, etc.

On the left, there’s a chat option, featured websites, an option to share photos or videos, a section with a blog called ‘educational paradigms’, which includes posts such as ‘Keeping your teaching experiences fresh’, ArtsJournal , where you can check out daily art news, and more. You can also join groups, such as ‘first year art teachers’, or ‘Voicethread in the artroom’.

Digital art is popular with students, and teachers can get support for this by joining ‘Digital design’ . ‘Teaching animation’ supports teachers in a discussion of ideas, strategies, and tools for teaching animation.

I’ll definitely be telling my art faculty about this supportive art community. Makes me want to be an art educator!

Leave a comment

Filed under art, Education, photos, Web 2.0

Twitter Twitter Twirl

I’m having a go. I’m still signing up for everything I don’t know about. That is, I know it exists; I just don’t know how it works. Today I decided that I’d been signed up to Twitter long enough without doing anything about it. It was time to try a tweet (I think). Since twittering revolves around people, I thought I’d get me some (sic). I had a couple of people – literally – in my Twitterverse; I needed more. Many, many more. Like all the other Twitterers. It felt strange – browsing through people’s bios on other Twitterers’ sites. A bit like stealing friends. I followed anyone I’d ever heard of and those with whom I shared interests in education. Funny thing is that a few people were following Barack Obama, so I thought I’d give him a go too. Meanwhile, I need to practise what to say. Seems there’s a twitter language and grammar. Terse, obviously. And an intimacy that is expressed through digs and smart comments, I noticed. But how do I begin to use this tone with people I don’t even know? And just my luck, as soon as I master the twittering, the rest will all fly off and join a new social network with its own foreign language and customs.

Leave a comment

Filed under humour

crowdsourcing

Found this video on Education Innovation and it prompted reflection. How quickly things have changed in the world of technology in the last few years. Well, ‘last few’ to a person of my generation could mean anything from 5-20. The theme of the video is crowdsourcing. The basic message – we used to have to be physically together to create a crowd, but suddenly, with the internet, we’re able to create a virtual crowd. That is, virtual communities can just form themselves on the basis of shared interests. Fascinating, also, to acknowledge how technology has changed possibilties with photography. Three things have changed what photography can do forever: the development of affordable digital cameras; photo-editing software; and the internet. People are sharing photos, and more and more applications are popping up for creative use of images. Stock photos which used to be expensive are now abundant and therefore cheap because of amateurs’ communities. Think Flickr, think Picasa. Think about photo sharing on Facebook and MySpace. Think about the combination of photos and Google Earth.

Interesting, too, is the blurring of lines between amateur and professional, company and customers. Crowds, or groups, can change a business dramatically, or so the video says. And the most interesting thing, in my opinion, is that online communities organise themselves – what used to take corporate managers to achieve. Could the same be said for schools? How could we free up the system to allow for self-organising groups to form on the basis of shared interest and passion?

2 Comments

Filed under Education, flickr, photos, Web 2.0