Why Blog?

A list of great websites that will not only convince you that blogging is a terrific classroom tool, but also set you up with the skills you need for the journey!

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Wow – What a World of Widgets!!

It has been over three years since I last posted on this blog. In the time that has elapsed, I’ve completed a Masters in Education, been a teacher librarian, and am not the Education Officer for Digital Learning at ResourceLink, Brisbane Catholic Education’s information and resourcing service.

The first thing I am going to do now that I have rediscovered this blog is bring it into the 21st century. How… you might ask…

I’m going to widget-ify it!! Yes, when I began this blog, it was enough just to be able to publish online. Now we have access to a huge range of programs designed to inprove the effectiveness and quality of your blog, as well as make it fun and accessible.

Games, links, timers, animations – you name it, there’s a widget for it.

View this video for a brief overview:

So does this have any application to education? You bet it does! For classes/students/schools who maintain blogs, the right widget can not only enhance teaching and learning, it can also open a world of technology for more tech-savvy students, who may be challenged to build their own! So – widgets in education – here’s how…

Simple:

Countdown widgets – know how many days, hours and minutes until that assignment is due

Word of the Day widgets – increase your vocabulary, or revise new characters or words in a second language

Calculator widgets – solve your maths problems without leaving your blog!

(All available from Widgetbox or just Google ‘widgets’ to find heaps of great sources to explore!

Intermediate:

Voki and other voice widgets – animate yourself, add your voice and offer an audio description of tasks for those with weaker literacy skills

Widgenie – use plug ins to convert your excel spreadsheets or indeed any CSV files to display the figures in a smart visualisation on your blog – manage your own data, or get the students to upload their maths homework to a shared blog and compare!

TinEye – show your students that they can find the original publisher of images on the web – using TinEye’s ‘backward’ search, it matches your image with those that match it exactly that have been previously published online – embed the widget as a reminder to students to always cite images they use in their work!

Google Maps widgets – no more excuses about getting lost – access maps from within your online space, or set geography tasks with the click of a mouse

Advanced

Create a widget using a pre-created base, or use javascript to create one from scratch – on Widgetbox.

Another interesting creation tool is Sharendipity – create interactive widgets and other web apps without even knowing code.

Could Facebook be used in an educational setting?

Possibly…. but it would take a very dedicated teacher to try it!
I am not trying to dissuade people from the idea – I am all for trying to integrate new technologies if they are useful, if they can do something that no other means can, if they achieve growth in information literacy, if they are safe….

but to use Facebook in an educational setting, you would have to keep an eye on usage the entire time, to make sure it was not being used innappropriately. Teachers could post homework assignments on their students’ walls, post educational videos, websites they wanted their students to check out – they could use it to stimulate conversation or debate between students out of school hours, or to invite expert (who also had facebook accounts) to share their thoughts or ideas.

However I am just not sure if it would be manageable – the advantage of being able to post to all with one click is definitely there, but how would you be able to monitor or delete inappropriate posts? I myself am only really a facebook beginner, so the questions I am asking are not ones I have answers too – maybe there is an easy way that I have not discovered yet. I know companies like Flight Centre are encouraging their employees to use Facebook to maintain good client relationships, and communication between staff – again, it is about using webware in a way that wins for everyone – if people are going to access facebook during work/school hours, why not make it work for you?

One thing is clear – we need to keep on top of these things and continually explore the possibilities they present, because they are changing the way people socialise and communicate – and as social organisations based on communication (I’m talking about schools, here!!) I think it is pretty necessary we don’t bury our heads in the sand!!

So…. any suggestions? How would you use facebook in the classroom? Have you used it? Did it work? Was it too hard to monitor? I’m looking forward to the answers rolling in 😉

Kay

Viral blog ranking

This entry is more about blogging than education, but I am trying to raise the profile of my blog, so that I can raise the profile of educational blogs in general… so I stumbled (literally) on this page and thought I’d give it a go.

Viral Reciprocal Carousel is a great free way to raise the ranking of your blog with Technorati and other opinion leade

– copy and paste from this line (including the line) —

Why this will work

  • It provides value through personal recommendations
  • Links to your blog with linktext of your choice
  • Backlinks come from within a dedicated content about your blog
  • Rotating content will prevent it from penalties from search engines
  • It is viral – more participants means greater effect

How it works

Simply follow these few steps to get it working for you:

  • Create a new post on your blog and start it with a few words about how you came into this carousel.
  • Copy and paste the entire text between the red lines (including the red lines, too).
  • Check if all links are working after copy and paste.
  • Remove the very last recommendation from the list.
  • Add a recommendation for a blog you love to the top of the list with at least 2 to 3 sentences about why you love to read that blog, and add a little note that you recommend it, together with a link to your blog. Here is an example:

MarcoRichter.net is a blog I love to read. It provides latest information about blogging, link building and blog seo issues. From detailed how-to articles to some ultimate resource lists, Marco covers a wide variety of information for your daily blogging routine. Recommended by: WordPress Web 2.0 Spot-Er

Blogs I recommend because I love to read them daily:

  • Shambles – What’s new and exciting is a great blog, full of educational tips for icts and for new ideas for integrating web 2.0 technologies into teaching. Check it out for a fresh look at new technology! Recommended by Educational Resources Online.
  • HowtoSpoter.com – Alex Sysoef is my blogging guru. His Web 2.0 Wealth blogging system is dynamite! And his blog provides more valuable information on blogging than any other blog I know of. It’s a must-read if you want to make money blogging. Recommended by: Blog Design Journal
  • terrydean.org – Terry Dean is one of the original Internet Marketing guru’s who retired after having a huge success and going from pizza delivery to a true internet riches. I read his blog on daily bases among a few other. Always prefer to go to the source of information and his blog is one of them. Recommended by: WordPress Web 2.0 Guide
  • canimakebigmoneyonline.com – run by George Manty is the definite ressource when it comes to monetizing your blog. Being more than 2 years on the scene, there are several hundreds of articles on making money online. Take your time to read through them all – it´s worth it. Recommended by: Marco Richter
  • bloggingtips.com – More than 10 authors contribute interesting blogging topics to this site. If you want to stay updated on what´s hot in the blogosphere, this blog is a must read. Recommended by: Marco Richter
  • bluejar.com – run by Sarah Pacopac does more than blogging topics and goes out to browser relates issues and also provides some design and affiliate marketing information. Recommended by: Marco Richter
  • OneMansGoal.com – run by Bryan Clark is a good stop for bloggers wanting to learn more about generating visitors for their own blogs. He adds some time management topics for those among us looking for optimization of their daily routine. Recommended by: Marco Richter
  • topsecretblogger.com – This one is a completely community driven project. Everyone is invited to sign up and write a post on the blog. Many contest will be attracting other bloggers to come in and join the project. I think this will become even more influential in the future, it´s definitely worth taking a closer look. Recommended by: Marco Richter
  • probloggersmatrix.com – Mark´s blog is well-established and concentrates on topics about the relationship between bloggers and their readers. His posts are often titled as questions, what helps starting a conversation with the audience. Recommended by: Marco Richter

This carousel has been started by Marco Richter – the basic concept is a slightly adjusted version of Alex Sysoef´s reciprocal review carousel.

– copy and paste up to this line (including the line) —

So now apparently I sit back and watch the hits roll in…. fingers crossed!

Kay.

The kids we teach….

I have some friends whose five year old is working with his Dad to build his own computer.  His mum told me that he cried one day when he couldn’t pause the free to air television so he could get a drink – free to air television was such a foreign experience that he couldn’t comprehend why he didn’t have control over it like everything else he watched online and on his Xbox.

This is the future. Granted, this family are early adopters. They live and breathe technology, and so it is natural that their child does also. However, it will not be long before this is the norm,and quite frankly, school is not designed to cope with it.

Even at the most well resourced classrooms, access to technology is limited. Limited not only by cost, but also limited by the current curriculum, which was written in a pre-digital age. And I am not sure what the answer is, as I don’t think any of us know what a curriculum written for the digital age will look like. Even the most savvy teachers struggle to cover what is expected without adding what is actually needed.

There is a danger that we will assume that ‘digital natives’ as Marc Prensky calls children will ‘teach themselves’ about technology, and that teachers will only need to pick up the slack in less technological advanced areas. However we cannot make this assumption. Kids pick up what they need to know, and teach themselves to a certain extent, but just like those children who came to school knowing how to read, having just ‘picked it up’, we still need to teach them formally, to ensure there are no ‘gaps’ in their knowledge. The problem is that where we are relative experts in the area of traditional literacy, we are virtual beginners in the areas of information and technological literacy, and how this develops in the young learner….. so many issues to consider….

That’s my rant for today!!

Have fun. Kay.

I’ve been slack, but look at these great resources!!

I apologise for not posting for a long time..I admit I have been slack, and have been revelling in my new found freedom from study (having recently completed my Masters in Education).

However… do I have some sites for you….

Ever wanted to do some mindmapping but haven’t had the software to do so?? Check out bubbl.us….. it is truly the coolest free mindmapping you will ever find@@

Need a calculator for advanced math?? (well, I don’t but some people might…) check out

http://www.calcoolate.com/index.html – the Coolest calculator on the web….

What’s wrong with conventional calculators?

Let’s take the windows calculator as an example.

  • What’s the deal with drawing buttons for each digit on the screen when we have such buttons on the keyboard?
  • You can not type into a number. If you forgot a digit, you have to erase all last digits and retype them again.
    Try to type 12345, and then change to 19345.
  • You can perform just one operation at a time, no “complex” arithmetic like (2+3)*4
  • Why is there no history of previous calculations? The entire memory is 1 number (good old M+ and MR). PCs come today with megabytes of memory, why limit to one?
  • It’s inconsistent. Try this: runs the windows calculator, Select View | Standard and type 1+2*3=. You should get 9 as the answer. Now change to View | Scientific, and type again 1+2*3=. This time you get 7.
  • No unit conversions. Does your current calculator know how many feet are 100 meters? How many Fahrenheit is 32 Celsius?
    How can I replace my windows calculator?

Need some help with your Shakespeare?? Check out SparkNotes – for free online study guides…  http://www.sparknotes.com/

Want to write your bibliography?? Take the pain out of the most painful part of an assignment with EasyBib: http://www.easybib.com/

Taking notes, and are a fan of Facebook?? Check out the newest facebook application, Notecentric,  a web based note taking application. Notecentric keeps your notes organized and readily available online. Your notes are always in one place, so you don’t have to worry about synchronizing them. Check it out at http://www.notecentric.com/

More ideas coming your way, the next free half hour I get!!

Keeping in Touch with Netvibes

This unique mashup allows you to capture all of your information needs in one place. By registering (it’s free) you get your own page that you can design however you choose. You can include your email account, your blog/s, any number of cool widgets, ALL of your rss feeds and heaps more! You can even include ‘universes’ that have pages devoted to celebrities and other interests. I have included a screen cap of my netvibes page so you can get the feel of it… I have a main page that has basic info that I would use like email, blog, news feeds, weather widgets, to do lists, photos from flickr etc, then several other ‘tabbed’ pages that have all of my rss feeds grouped according to category eg Japan, Education, Web 2.0 as well as my delicious page and other delicious pages that I manage or am interested in. It is a great little tool for keeping on top of everything – try it out!

(click on the thumbnail for a full size screen capture)

http://www.netvibes.com/

Kay.Netvibes screen capture

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