Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Elgg Described, with Examples

Supporting online communities with Elgg

by Josie Fraser, with help from Sasan Salari

Elgg is an open-source social software programme which is free for institutions to download and use. Elgg provides an excellent way to investigate e-portfolio provision or to support your college communities online. By laying out a number of scenarios, this article clearly highlights the benefits of Elgg, and demonstrates its ...

This description of the various aspects of Elgg, followed by examples of how students and/or teachers can use them is inspiring, in the deep meaning of the word. You can breathe in ideas, circulate them through your experience, and imagine possibile uses. My own experience of using an Elgg Community blog for a class last term matches what the authors describe, and I have seen some new possibilites for my teaching in the fall.

Great article - very practical, with helpful images. I recommend it.

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Blogged with Flock

Monday, June 26, 2006

Connectivism vs Constructivism - G. Siemens

A succinct and clear look at how we learn and learning theories. Siemens says:

Most learning needs today are becoming too complex to be addressed in "our heads". We need to rely on a network of people (and increasingly, technology) to store, access, and retrieve knowledge and motivate its use. The network itself becomes the learning. This is critical today; the rapid development of knowledge means that we need to find new ways of learning and staying current. We cannot increase our capacity for learning ad infinitum. We must begin to conceive learning as socially networked and enhanced by technology (it’s a symbiosis of people and technology that forms our learning networks). We need to acknowledge our learning context not only as an enabler of learning, but as a participant of the learning itself.


We rely on Google, libraries, friends, social bookmarks/tags, etc. to serve as our personal learning network (we store the knowledge external to ourselves). When we need something, we go to our network (know-where is more important than know-how or know-what)...or we expand our network. In the end, the constant act of connecting in order to stay current is a much more reflective model of learning than constructivism.

Connectivism Blog

That matches my experience as a learner.

Also very interesting, the

matrix posted by Derek Wenmoth on online learning (including a continuum of learning theories)

Connectivism Blog


A final note - I think using the Flock blogging tool is helpful, but it does alter my style.

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Blogged with Flock

Monday, June 19, 2006

Flock - One-Stop Web Browsing

I was checking what was happening on the SocialLearning.ca site and saw D'Arcy's post -

Flock Beta 1 Available Now | SocialLearning.ca.

Finally, I thought, someone is pulling things together for the user - a Web 2.0 (social) browser that is a one-stop space.

So I decided to play with it.

I like it. A lot! In fact, I'm creating this blog using all the integrated bits, from putting my screenshot into Flickr and then into this blog post, all in one window. And the Favorites link to del.icio.us, so I can tag them for future reference. I haven't used the aggregator because I'm happy with Bloglines, but I would recommend using the Flock newsfeeds to anyone who has been thinking about using an aggregator, but hasn't set up their own Bloglines account yet. That way you would have everything you need, including a Search space, right in the same browser.For more detailed information, check out http://paulstamatiou.com/2006/06/15/the-definitive-flock-beta-1-review/

Using Flock gives me a simpler interaction and saves me time. So I'm really impressed, so impressed, in fact, that I'm making Flock my default browser.

Give it a try - see what you think.

Blogged with Flock


Blogged with Flock

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Social Software & Academic Commons

If you want to understand the "big picture" of the impact of social software on education, including the problems, I suggest you go to the Academic Commons and read Joseph Ugoretz"s Three Stars and a Chili Pepper
Ugoretz starts from this premise:
Social software includes many communication media, but the new tools which are the subject of this essay all fit three broad descriptions. These tools are interactive, with the content created and structured by a wide mass of contributors. These tools are also interconnected, with user-provided searchable links structuring and cross-referencing that content. And finally, these tools are bottom-up and communitarian, with the users of the tools providing and benefitting from associations, reputations, and authority within a many-to-many community. The various tools of social software are an increasing presence in the online world, as well as the offline lives of their users.

He uses anecdotes and clear explanations.

I recommend it.


A New Resource for Learning

I've been playing on (with?) a new resource for learning and teaching called SocialLearning.ca
You can learn a lot on this site. For direct learning, take a look at the Tutorials section - the link is on the far right on the navbar at the top.
You can also learn by exploring a little using the (right)sidebar to click on tags or other links -
And finally, you can learn by exploring the navbar at the top. For example, by clicking on "Software" you will find information on various software that SocialLearning.ca members recommend and/or describe.
If, as a teacher, you have trouble filling your time during the summer (;-> irony alert!) you could spend at least some of your "free" time exploring and learning from this site.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Tagging - for Bookmarking Favorites

Tagging is an essential tool for anyone who wants to find interesting Websites again sometime in the future. In a previous post, I explained tagging, using extensive quotes from Ellyssa Kroski's post, The Hive Mind: Folksonomies and User-Based Tagging at InfoTangle. It's still an excellent starting point for understanding the significance of tagging. However, sometimes "quick and dirty" howto's are all someone wants to know. With that in mind, here's a link to -
Thirteen Tips for Effective Tagging, an excellent post on the "how's" of tagging with del.icio.us. For example:
Below are some tips for choosing tags on del.icio.us from Web Consultant Alexandra Samuel.

Be a lemming. Check how other people are tagging the kinds of sites you want to remember. Del.icio.us Linkbacks makes this very easy. Bear in mind that different people will bookmark the same site for different reasons: I might bookmark Terminus 1525 as a great example of a Drupal site, while you are saving it as a link to young Canadian artists.
Follow the herd. When in doubt, pick the tag that seems to have the most links -- this is the leading tag of the options you're considering, so hopefully will emerge as the dominant focal point (so you don't have to check "open-source," "opensource," and "open_source" to keep on top of the big world of open source).

I recommend the whole post, and suggest you bookmark it using del.icio.us ;->


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Contextual Spell Checking - a Great Advance

From CorrecteurOrthographiqueOffice, a truly significant development in spell checking - contextual spell checking!
A writing-teacher fantasy come true!


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Matthew McKinnon on Web Megasites

The Web can be a confusing and therefore intimidating space. Matthew McKinnon, published on CBC's Arts & Entertainment Website, gives the clearest map I've seen:
Think of the web’s old guard as TV networks — they provide mainstream programming for amorphous audiences — and its young turks as cable channels, offering niche content to avid subscriber bases.

The leaders of this new school excel at creating online communities. MySpace, YouTube and Flickr function as self-contained planets in cyberspace; Blogger is chief architect of the blogosphere. All of them encourage their users to contribute content, engage in conversation and form personal relationships. It’s a totally different tao of building traffic: Yahoo! takes you places, MySpace means you’re already there.

Settle in, and get a load of the big stars of the net’s new wave...

Here's the link to his article: http://www.cbc.ca/arts/media/megasites.html.