Thursday, December 27, 2007

Tagging - For Organizing Information

One of the most important aspects of the web today is a way of organizing information called tagging (or, on Blogger, labelling). You could say that tagging is the child of alphabetical indexing - a post-Gutenberg information management invention - and hyperlinking - a web networking development. You can see what this looks like in the tag cloud pictured below. (If you want to learn about Web 2.0, you can click on the link to Wikipedia and then click on the various hyperlinked terms in the image to read the Wikipedia definitions. The size indicates how often each is used.)

A Very Small History Lesson
Humans spoke before we wrote and for centuries we dealt with information by remembering, sometimes using memory aids like rhyme, rhythm, and formulaic storytelling. Then writing developed, and people could note down information, and compose stories. Sacred writings passed wisdom along the generational chain, with "books" being tied together into one unit, no matter what their subject matter. A small elite of those who could read and write formed, and were usually part of a priesthood devoted to preserving, accumulating, and passing along the wisdom. All the "books" were hand-copied and some priests had books virtually memorized, but that didn't create the absolute uniformity that came with the printed word.
from -

When the printing press was invented, exact copies could be made, and human interventions, mistakes and alterations didn't cause variations among copies. Reading, in the European world was still associated with the sacred, although universal literacy was seen as a way to allow everyone to have immediate connection with the Holy Scriptures rather than having to go through a hierarchy of priests. With the growth of universal literacy, many other developments followed, including the ability to "read" (and interpret) the same texts differently, which created dissent. People began to reproduce books other than scriptures, and thus to share and spread philosophical and scientific thought, which sped up "progress" and led to even more differing opinions.

For scholars and readers, other developments were built on the uniformity of the books being published using a printing press. In order to avoid reading a whole book while looking for one piece of information, the organizational development that most links (pun intended) to tagging was developed.

While information and ideas were being discovered, collected, and published, readers began to want to read just parts of (non-narrative) books. Now that many people could read books where the pages always stayed the same, it became easier to manage information. Scholars started creating categories, or taxonomies, so they could find specific information quickly and completely. They began using indexes at the ends of books, and alphabetizing these indexes; it was worth the time it took for someone to index the information in a book to make it more accessible to the many readers of the book.

It quickly became essential for any learner to learn how to use indexes in books and in libraries, and systems of organizing information developed as rigid categories were set up, and people learned how to use them.

With the arrival of the World Wide Web came the possibilities of hyperlinking. Taxonomies & alphabetical indexing (top down hierarchically controlled) plus hyperlinking (giving choice in reading/viewing paths)combined and in Web 2.0 tagging was born.

I use tagging for my blog posts, to make it easier for readers to search for the topics that interest them. However, the real power of tagging, for me, comes with my online bookmarks. I use - to collect website addresses, URLs, for future reference. I use words or phrases that have meaning for me as keywords. Sometimes when I'm adding a site to my account, a tag may be a general topic, like, say, "social_bookmarking" or it might be highly idiosyncratic, like the course code of a course I teach, or I might add both plus the name of a friend whom I'll send the link to next week, or all of them. For example,

While I check through the blogs I follow, using my feed reader, I don't read them in full, but I do add the relevant ones to my account, and now have an extensive collection of tags -

far more than I can show you in a screen shot. They are an invaluable resource, and they are named for my interests and needs, not according to a rigid and prescribed set of terms.

Tagging is a new and highly useful way to organize information, a method that didn't exist, before the web.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Understanding PLEs and Learning

Through Stephen Downes' OLDaily I encountered What the Heck is a PLE and Why Would I Want One?. It is aimed at teachers, but students and parents would find its brief, clear explanation of the differences between Course Management Systems (CMS) and Personal Learning Exvironments (VLE) helpful.

Have your sound up when you check it out.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

How Lucky Do You Feel About the Environment?

Through Twitter, (and sorry but I can't remember whose blog), I discovered an interesting and diverse collection of 2007 videos - one is essential to watch. Our lives depend on it, - - - and it can be used in schools to teach critical thinking. Here is the link:

I urge you to watch it and share it!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Canadian Copyright - Educate Yourself!

From Michael Geist's Blog - - how to take action - and power!

The Good and the Bad News About Teaching Writing

Now that I am no longer buried in teaching and marking, I can begin to read (and learn) from my favorite blogs again. Here, through a link from my favorite information disseminater, Stephen Downes, is a clear honest evaluation about the state of writing, and teaching writing, and why this is important in the overall scheme of things, by Michael Umphrey. Please read it!
How to Improve the Teaching of Writing/

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Novel at 14

For about a year and a half I've been working with a very bright young woman, now 14 years old. I am pleased and proud to announce that she has recently published her first novel, Amelie of the Mitesen. It is a coming-of-age story set in a fantasy world somewhat similar to that of the Metis.

I did none of the writing; I simply told her what I thought was well written, and where she needed to add more of a set-up to parts of the story. It is all her ideas and all her words.

Feel free to order a copy from -

Saturday, November 17, 2007

In My Study

What the sun says in passing ...

Past Prime
The remains of beauty.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Hacking Mail Accounts

I heard a disturbing story today from a friend. She has a Yahoo mail account, or rather, she had one. Someone hacked into it and sent emails to everyone in her contacts list. I can't remember if she said all her files were destroyed as well; we were both rushing in different directions.

All her contacts got an email starting "Hello Dear" which her kids immediately recognized as a fraud because she never uses that kind of phrase. The email continued, telling her contacts that she was stranded in Africa, and where they could send the money she needed to get back home.

I don't want to increase anyone's paranoia, but that level of fraud is pretty scary. My friend is a smart lady, and she took action immediately, but it has caused her a lot of trouble and anxiety. I don't know what would allow that kind of security breech. Does anybody know how to avoid that kind of hacking?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Urban Architecture - Reflecting Contrast

Lately I keep 'seeing' the contrasts and correspondences of current urban architecture and how it frames itself. Digital cameras entice me to practice seeing what I see.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Zonbu - A Green and Cheap Computer

I was sitting in my exercise Second Cup, a 20 minute walk each way, and leafing through one of the magazines - Forbes, I think, when I came across and article on a new make of computer. I could hardly get my head around the price for Zonbu, a computer.

Just $99.00 - (and currently, it doesn't matter whether that's Canadian or American!) It's a gift price. Even though you have to supply a keyboard and pay $12.95 (or more) a month, it's still remarkably cheap.

I like the set-up, too. I'm a fan of online applications, especially free ones. I already use Firefox and Open Office, and store some of my files online in my G.Space - and in my Box account. I think the plan to use the web is very forward thinking.

This is not an advertisement and I'm not going to give up my Mac for a Zonbu just yet, but this is the future. High storage and high cost applications will be for professionals, and perhaps the first home computer. Second or third computers, and computers for students, will be Zonbu computers, or something like them.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mac + Kitten - Way Too Cute!

Sometimes even cuteness has a purpose

My apologies if you're offended by cuteness or kittens, or Macs;->

Found through Christopher Sessums

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Wiki Showcasing Web 2.0 Learning Tools

releasethehounds - is a wiki aimed at teachers and showing what can be done, by teachers and by students.

Among the tools it showcases are VoiceThreads, - - YouTube, - - and SlideShare, - - all free and fairly straightforward to learn how to use. All both audio and visual.
Courtesy of the prolific and generous Stephen Downes's OLDaily

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Information Revolution

I believe that we are in the middle of an amazing shift in our knowledge semiosis. After about 6000 years of writing and 400 years of print, we are in the digital age with world wide access to an abundance of information, available on a world wide platform, delivered in a mixture of media. Michael Wesch has put another of his brilliant short videos up on YouTube, this one demonstrating the impact of the information revolution we are currently careering through.

Link found through Donna Papacosta, blogger, podcaster, and all round amazing!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"Knocked Up" - A Story by and for the Boys

I saw "Knocked Up" a couple of nights ago, and I was underwhelmed. What I had expected to focus on a highly female experience was told from the point of view of immature males. First, to respond at the depth the movie encouraged, that is, shallowly, I couldn't believe the couple. The woman, Kathleen Heigl, was beautiful, and she can act; I've seen her in Grey's Anatomy. The male lead was about as unlikely as possible, and certainly no pleasure for females to look at. (Did I mention "shallow"?)And he declaimed rather than acted. I couldn't feel any chemistry between him and Kathleen Heigl, or, indeed, between him and his future brother-in-law. He was the geeky guy who got, so to speak, the girl, and thus the projection of male fantasies.

The jokes and gags were male-oriented; it was a story about how one of the gaggle of pointlessly-stupid males got cut from the herd. From the bong jokes to the practical-joke jokes, it was male sentimentality and gross-out humour all the way. Even the sex scene was about the male's problems with sex with a pregnant woman, not about her experience, except for her frustration at his irrational idiocy.

One contrast to this male-oriented approach did exist. Kathleen Heigl kept her bra on and her butt covered in all the sex scenes while he had his ass clearly displayed on camera - no treat that! However, there were improbably large breasts displayed in the nightclub scene to balance Heigl's dignity.

I had read that "Knocked Up" was a "sweet" story of young people taking responsibility and "growing up". What I saw was a version of the "Animal House" approach applied (quite improbably) to a situation that could have been seen in a less shallow and more nuanced way.

I give it a finger down the throat.

Friday, September 28, 2007

In Plain English - Commoncraft

As the web develops new possibilities for communication are created. Here are three examples. The main example is how Commoncraft uses simple video and recorded voice to communicate basic concepts. Both of the following videos are illustrations of this.

This first is about how to use Google Docs to write collaboratively. Notice how clearly the information is displayed and described.

The second is an explanation of the new communication situation for PR and is, I think, like the Google Docs one, an ad wrapped in a concept - a style of communication that works particularly well in this era of rapidly changing communications.

I think this is really clear communication. What do you think?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

September = School

All my life, since I was 4, September has meant that school starts again. I remember in grade school, promising myself that this year my notebooks would be beautiful, that I wouldn't make messy mistakes in them. Always, September meant the chance to see old friends who were somewhere else over the summer, the chance to find a new friend who would truly understand me and like me, the chance for something wonderful to happen. Is it any wonder that I find September an exciting yet anxious month?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Business and Web 2.0 - Again

A couple of weeks ago I posted a link to a SlideShare site on Enterprise 2.0 -

I believe that business, like all of our culture, is on the edge of a whole new way of communication with a generation that understands and uses the new way, but not the old way. Rich Hoeg, in his blog, eContent, has put up an interesting webcast on the subject of learning in business

From Flat Learning - Learning 2.0

Monday, August 20, 2007

Why Schools Need to Learn About the Digital Ecomony

The digital economy is part of globalization and will be a big part of the future Canadian economy, and we need to get it right. Michael Geist has written about what would enhance Canada's digital economy in the Toronto Star today. I recommend the article.

If you are interested in recognizing writing skills, check out my comments here.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Visualizing Data

I have trouble understanding numbers, however visual images make sense to me.This shows house prices around the world, and I "get" it.

Check out the Daily Mail link to see how the following are spread out over the world: alcohol consumption, HIV prevalence, house prices, military spending, war and death, toy imports, toy exports, the wealth of nations in 1500, and the wealth of nations in 2002.

Geography and political science teachers should be using this kind of visualization, IMHO, so students who are visual can understand even if they are numbers-blind.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Understanding Social Bookmarking

commoncraft has done it again! Another very brief, very clear, virtually whimsical video explaining web 2.0. This time on social bookmarking, showing how it works with


Monday, August 13, 2007

Google add-ons Can End Ads!

If you use gmail, as I do ever since my computer crashed and I lost all my computer-based contacts, and if you get annoyed by the ads, as I do, here's a solution: courtesy of a comment by Miguel Guhlin on my Eduspaces blog -

I've installed and it works! No more annoying ads.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


VoiceThreads is a beta application that looks like a lot of fun; it's very easy and free. You use photos or other images, upload them, and use your computer's microphone to add narration or other audio, or, if you don't have, or don't want to use a sound recording, you can simply type copy. Then people can comment, by voice or text, on your VoiceThreads, or you can limit who comments and who sees/hears the comment when. For more information, see my EduSpaces blog on it -

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Understanding Web 2.0 and Business

Meet Charlie - Enterprise 2.0 is a slide show that shows where Web 2.0 is taking business. I've hesitated adding it to my blog because it is filled with misused apostrophes. (Please see Lynn Truss's Eats, Shoots and Leaves for a detailed explanation of what I'm complaining about!)

However,Scott Gavin's slide show, posted on SlideShare - - provides an excellent description of where the business world is going, because of the web, as well as demonstrating how a PowerPoint can communicate effectively even without audio.

Enjoy - and learn!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Top 10 Tools, or What Other Educators are Using

I stumbled across Top 10 Tools yesterday, and found it a rich resource for web tools I could using in my teaching, learning and playing on the web. I sent in my own choices:

Check out my full list -
and find the riches in the collection of lists -

Thanks to Jane Hart and the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Another Brain Backup - Backpack

I have been using the free version of Backpack for years. It's especially handy for reminders, where I can set up a reminder to be emailed to me regularly. For example, I get a monthly reminder to check my bank account so that an automatic monthly withdrawal won't cause me to be overdrawn. I get my monthly reminder in my inbox, and I haven't had to worry about forgetting since I started using Backpack.

Now it has some new stuff making it even more interesting and useful -

This is a remarkably versatile and easy-to-use application, and I suggest you add it to your Bookmarks Toolbar, and make it part of your personal learning/work environment, i.e. keep it always handy!

I'm still playing with Jott, which I posted about yesterday, and have found some problems with it, which I'll cover when I get a message back from them.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Jott - Another Fun Application

My friend, Bob Collings, sent me a link to Jott a new application still in Beta, that is very interesting. You phone their number, tell them who you want to leave a message for, including yourself, speak, and Jott emails your message to you or any of the contacts you've named. It is absolutely simple and requires no technical knowledge at all!

It's good for reminders, to do lists, and recording ideas, as well as messages. I'm going to play with it and see how it works for me.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Mapping Wikipedia

Teachers who want a way of introducing their students to a new topic may find it useful to use WikiMindMap to create a mindmap to introduce the subject, and as a quick way of getting basic resources into the hands of students. Mindmaps are especially useful for visual thinkers and those starting to research an area. John Dewey is one of the most important writers on teaching and learning, in my opinion, so I put his name into the search box, made sure that I was using the English Wikipedia, and got this -

Under "Select a Wiki", make sure you select ""; the default is "", which finds German results. The green circling arrows are direct links, and the plus signs can be opened out for further links. At this point WikiMindMap is in beta.

I had a lot of fun seeing what I could find through it.

via Tris Hussey's A View from the Isle

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Canada and the Web

I'm Canadian, and I'm pleasantly surprised to see the Canadian stats and apps:

from the Read/Write Web:

Canadians use the Internet more than anyone in the world. According to comScore, Canadians spend on average 39.6 hours per month on the Internet, followed by Israel at 37.4 and South Korea at 34, while the USA is in 8th position with 29.4. Canada also leads in online reach with 70% of households having Internet access. The average pages viewed per visitor is 3800 in Canada, while the U.K. is second at 3300. And at 67%, Canada has one of the highest broadband penetrations in the world, 21 points higher than the US. Finally, while Canada still lags in online advertising, with $28.05 per Internet user and the US with $71.43, ad spending is expected to grow 32% this year (Ernst&Young LLP). So Canada is a sophisticated, and growing, market for Web apps.

As in any other country, Canadians heavily use Google, Yahoo and other global services like ebay and craiglist; each of which has their own english and french canadian localized versions. In social networking, Facebook is the star app of the moment. For instance, Toronto has more than 650.000 facebook users, more than the combined facebook users in New York, Boston and Los Angeles.

So Canada is still a communications leader!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A Quick History of our New Digital Environment

This is about our communication tools and how they are changing. It's short and fast. You might want to watch it more than once, if you're not a digital native. I needed to watch it more than once;->

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Question of Wikipedia

The first time I heard about Wikipedia, I got really excited; I characterized it as a "world mind".

I saw it as a place to share knowledge that anyone (with an online connection)could contribute to and/or benefit from. I confess I was initially impatient with, and disparaging of, those who told students not to use it. As the conversation about Wikipedia developed, I moved into the "use it to start researching, but don't cite it" for my students, and "It's an amazing source; check it out" for my friends and acquaintances.

I stumbled across Jon Udell's screencast which gave me an understanding of how Wikipedia works; I highly recommend you take the 9 minutes to view it

After watching Udell's screencast, (or instead of, or before) read danah boyd's short take on the importance of Wikipedia -
I find myself in close agreement with her.
Wikipedia brings me great joy. I see it as a fantastic example of how knowledge can be distributed outside of elite institutions. I have watched stubs of articles turn into rich homes for information about all sorts of subjects. What I like most about Wikipedia is the self-recognition that it is always a work-in- progress. The encyclopedia that I had as a kid was a hand-me-down; it stated that one day we would go to the moon. Today, curious poor youth have access to information in an unprecedented way. It may not be perfect, but it is far better than a privilege-only model of access.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A New Web Research Tool - Yoono

Text and image notes below video
I'm editing the shared post from my Yoono account because, although Yoono looks very handy for saving material found on the web, (text, images and video), it isn't completely my fantasy.
  • You only get to see one section of my notes on my "buzz" on the Yoono demo page; I couldn't select the whole "buzz", just one individual "note" on the "buzz" to share.
  • I couldn't drag the "notes" into the order I wanted; they appeared in the order they were "buzzed".
Of course, I'm a completely new user so I may just have missed some of the information provided in the video and the text/image explanations.

In any case, it looks to be like a cross between and digg. I suspect it will be more popular among the digital natives than because of its ease of connection with MySpace and because it feels more like the social web aspects they are familiar with.

I suggest you take a look at it, and spend some time playing with it. (In my opinion, you can't judge just from the demo; you need to play/learn, which is what I'm engaged in this morning.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Art From Art!

500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art
Web 2.0 art - it reminds me of a music video from years ago where faces continuously and rapidly morphed into others - "Cry" by Godley and Creme - read about it here

Monday, June 11, 2007

Too Funny Not to Share!

Remember Abbott & Costello's "Who's on First?" Here's the digital version -
From Diva Marketing Blog, thanks to A View From the Isle -

The scene: Costello calls to buy a computer from Abbot.

Abbott: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?
Costello: Yes. I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm thinking about buying a computer.
Abbott: Mac?
Costello: No, the name's Lou.
Abbott: Your computer?
Costello: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.
Abbott: Mac?
Costello: I told you, my name's Lou.
Abbott: What about Windows?
Costello: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?
Abbott: Do you want a computer with Windows?
Costello: I don't know. What will I see when I look at the windows?
Abbott: Wallpaper.
Costello: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.
Abbott: Software for Windows?
Costello: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track
expenses and run my business. What do you have?
Abbott: Office.
Costello: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?
Abbott: I just did.
Costello: You just did what?
Abbott: Recommend something.
Costello: You recommended something?
Abbott: Yes.
Costello: For my office?
Abbott: Yes.
Costello: OK, what did you recommend for my office?
Abbott: Office
Costello: Yes, for my office!
Abbott: I recommend Office with Windows.
Costello: I already have an office with windows! OK, let's just say I'm sitting at
my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?
Abbott: Word.
Costello: What word?
Abbott: Word in Office.
Costello: The only word in office is office.
Abbott: The Word in Office for Windows.
Costello: Which word in office for windows?
Abbott: The Word you get when you click the blue "W".
Costello: I'm going to click your blue "w" if you don't start with some straight
answers. What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything I can track
my money with?
Abbott: Money.
Costello: That's right. What do you have?
Abbott: Money.
Costello: I need money to track my money?
Abbott: It comes bundled with your computer.
Costello: What's bundled with my computer?
Abbott: Money.
Costello: Money comes with my computer?
Abbott: Yes. No extra charge.
Costello: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?
Abbott: One copy.
Costello: Isn't it illegal to copy money?
Abbott: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.
Costello: They can give you a license to copy money?
Abbott: Why not? THEY OWN IT!
A few days later:
Abbott: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?
Costello: How do I turn my computer off?
Abbott: Click on "START"

Friday, June 08, 2007

Power Point Advice

The video is comical but the advice is excellent! Don McMillan Stars

Link thanks to Donna Papacosta

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Another Wikipedia Evaluation

There are still people who think Wikipedia isn't reliable, that people should be warned away from it. I think it is an utterly amazing example of collaboration, the creation of an external collective mind.

The Denver Post got 5 experts to evaluate articles in their areas of expertise.
The results? Four out of five agreed their relevant Wikipedia entries are accurate, informative, comprehensive and a great resource for students or the merely curious.

The fifth scholar called his chosen entry "not very good," found some details to be inaccurate by omission, and said similar entries in more accepted encyclopedias like Encarta do their job better.

For more details, including the University of Colorado history professor William Wei's negative comments, follow the link to the article.

Booth, Michael. "Grading Wikipedia." Denver Post 30 Apr. 2007. 2 May 2007 .

Link courtesy of Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion

Monday, April 30, 2007

The Learning Implications of MySpace, Facebook, etc.

The changes in what can be done on the web are massive and occurring very quickly, which makes it hard for digital immigrants (most of us older than 25 - 30) to keep up. Yet we teachers need to know what world, what culture, our students are living in. Sometimes we can learn from our students, and get a vivid sense of what excites them; sometimes research can gives us the big picture.

Henry Jenkins, Director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has published this white paper, Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century that explores new frameworks and models for media literacy.

A central goal of this report is to shift the focus of the conversation about the digital divide from questions of technological access to those of opportunities to participate and to develop the cultural competencies and social skills needed for full involvement. Schools as institutions have been slow to react to the emergence of this new participatory culture; the greatest opportunity for change is currently found in afterschool programs and informal learning communities. Schools and afterschool programs must devote more attention to fostering what we call the new media literacies: a set of cultural competencies and social skills that young people need in the new media landscape. Participatory culture shifts the focus of literacy from one of individual expression to community involvement.The new literacies almost all involve social skills developed through collaboration and networking.These skills build on the foundation of traditional literacy, research skills, technical skills, and critical analysis skills taught in the classroom. (Bolding added)

The whole paper can be downloaded from -

Even reading just the two page Executive Summary will give you lots to think about. And the concluding statement shows the dangers of ignoring the new participatory culture Jenkins is writing about:

The Challenge Ahead: Ensuring that All Benefit from the Expanding Media Landscape

Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education (May 19, 2006), Bill Ivey, the former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, and Steven J.Tepper, a professor of Sociology at Vanderbilt University, described what they see as the long term consequences of this participation gap:

Increasingly, those who have the education, skills, financial resources, and time required to navigate the sea of cultural choice will gain access to new cultural opportunities....They will be the pro-ams who network with other serious amateurs and find audiences for their work.They will discover new forms of cultural expression that engage their passions and help them forge their own identities, and will be the curators of their own expressive lives and the mavens who enrich the lives of others....At the same time, those citizens who have fewer resources—less time, less money, and less knowledge about how to navigate the cultural system—will increasingly rely on the cultural fare offered to them by consolidated media and entertainment conglomerates... Finding it increasingly difficult to take advantage of the pro-am revolution, such citizens will be trapped on the wrong side of the cultural divide. So technology and economic change are conspiring to create a new cultural elite—and a new cultural underclass. It is not yet clear what such a cultural divide portends: what its consequences will be for democracy, civility, community, and quality of life. But the emerging picture is deeply troubling. Can America prosper if its citizens experience such different and unequal cultural lives?

Ivey and Tepper bring us back to the core concerns that have framed this essay: how can we “ensure that all students benefit from learning in ways that allow them to participate fully in public, community, [Creative] and economic life?” How do we guarantee that the rich opportunities afforded by the expanding media landscape are available to all? What can we do through schools, afterschool programs, and the home to give our youngest children a head start and allow our more mature youth the chance to develop and grow as effective participants and ethical communicators? This is the challenge that faces education at all levels at the dawn of a new era of participatory culture.

This is a rich and inspiring read for all who are involved in education.

Jenkins, Henry. "Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century." Digital Media and Learning (2006). 27 Apr. 2007 .

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Deceptively Low Tech Fun!

I can't resist showing you this website -

It looks, and in some ways is, low tech but it has its own url and isn't a web 2.0 application, so it has some high tech elements. However, what I loved about it is the concept. I read through to the end because of the creative approach. It is different and very amusing.

I'll probably buy the book;->

Thanks to Gloria - - for the link

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

RSS in Plain English

If you have heard the term "aggregation" or "RSS" or even "newsreader" and aren't sure what they mean of how to use them, this video is for you.

RSS in Plain English

It's short and clear. Watch and then set up your account.

Link thanks to Donna Papacosta

Monday, April 16, 2007

Understanding the Net Generation's Academic Interests

The new tools that attract students to blogs and social networking software—including the resources that make possible site design, intertextuality, the combination of video and audio elements with text, the ability to comment and respond—can be used for the age-old project of developing the thinking, reading, and writing skills of students.

from MyLiteracies:
Understanding the Net Generation through LiveJournals and Literacy Practices
- by Dana J. Wilber

We have a radically new communication tool that uses text, images, sound, and moving images with sound, and can be made fully public, public in a limited way, or kept private. Many, probably most students, are rapidly teaching themselves elements of this new communication tool, and the academic world needs to - not just allow but - encourage the use of the web as a formal learning tool. Wilber's article explains what is happening with the Digital Generations' communication habits and patterns, and why faculty should be aware of and using these tools to help students learn.

I strongly recommend this short article.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Howard Gardner on the New Digital Media's Impact - Link courtesy of Stephen Downes
Ever since I came across Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences, I've had enormous respect for his insights. Politics and Commerce are central, but education SHOULD be as deeply affected, as those because they both depend on appropriately educated citizens and workers.

Returning to the question at hand, two spheres that have been most immediately impacted by the new digital media are politics and commerce. Political candidates and operatives need to master the new media of communication, lest they become victims thereof; and any company or corporation that attempts to operate without employing the speed, flexibility, and advertising powers of the NDM is likely to have a short life. We can call these changes in human culture?more fundamental aspects of human cognition, emotion, and character are not significantly altered.

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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Mobile Learning: The Next Step in Technology-Mediated Learning

"Mobile Learning: The Next Step in Technology Mediated Learning" - - looks at both what learning is and how it might be changing as mobile devices become ever more common. The author of the article, Ellen Wagner, is the director of worldwide e-learning at Adobe Systems Inc. I recommend this brief but insightful article highly.

Courtesy of Stephen Downes - - I really like the quote he chose to highlight:
Learning is a deeply personal act, best facilitated by relevant, reliable and engaging experiences, yet many teaching approaches still rely on more impersonal 'command and control' models that include an instructor in charge, specific goals to be met and criteria to be mastered.

A comment that captures the complexity of education today.

For those who need a break from reading blogs - my Flickr account of being a tourist

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Web: Risks and Rescues

I believe that (most) technology is neutral; it's how people use it that makes it good or bad. It is curious that humans pay more attention to the relatively few predators than to the far larger problem of bullying, which is growing in our culture, not just online. Look at some of the most popular reality TV shows for examples.

Link courtesy of Stephen Downes -,
From -

Now let's look at a very different number deserving of parental attention: peer harassment, or cyberbullying. Compare the figure of 100 adult-to-minor predation cases in 2005 to 6.9 million "cases" of teen-to-teen cyberbullying. The latter number comes from a 2006 study by criminology Profs. J.W. Patchin and S. Hinduja which found that 33.4% of US teens have been victimized by cyberbullying (see "Bullies Move Beyond the Schoolyard"). According to Jupiter Research, there were 20.6 million US teens online by the end of last year. One third (33.4%) of 20.6 million suggests 6.9 million incidents of cyberbullying. These are the best figures we have on the noncriminal, peer-to-peer side of the social Web's risk spectrum, but are actually much better numbers (based on sound research methodology) than the 100 cases of sexual predation compiled from news media stories. The CACRC researchers tell me they're starting work on a study that will update and vastly improve on that 100-cases figure, but it won't be publicly available for over a year.

I find it interesting too, that I've never seen the positives of social networking highlighted before either:
[And consider one more notable number on the positive side of social networking: MySpace is the source of more than 100,000 visitors a year to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's Web site. It's the hotline's single biggest source of referrals... .]

So the web is neither good nor evil; it is simply a communication channel for humans.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Teaching and Learning

George Seimens says:
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Innovation requires experimentation. When our schedules are too full for experimentation (a vital activity for helping teachers/educators understand the affordances of social software), we end up in a role of validating the existing structures of learning...rather than pushing boundaries of education for the benefit of learners.
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I believe teachers should be actively learning the new media, as part of keeping our own sense of how challenging and difficult learning can be. We need to model how to take on the challenge of learning for our students,

Clipmarks Again

The first time I tried to clip the demo, I just got the image; see below.

This time I got to the demo on YouTube and was able to clip it there.

If I was successful, you will see it here, however, I will have to edit this post to add the tags.
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Sharing Accelerated - Clipmarks

Here's an interesting service I'm playing around with. I download it and now I'm clipping the demo and sending to my blog. Found through Scoble's blog on Clipmarks.

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Watch the Clipmarks Demo
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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Learning on the Web

I find the web a wonderful place for learning. While learning on the web, I have discovered that I like to see and hear how to do things using the web, not just read about it. When I find a new application that I might be able to use, I look for the Tour or for a video and/or screencast. I start from seeing and hearing; I read howtos, tips and Help later, when I get stuck.

As a result, when I read, in my Bloglines, about Scoble's post about Ning having a new drag and drop set up for creating personal social networks, like Elgg, (my choice) MySpace or Facebook, I immediately watched the 12 minute video on Ning's new and easy functionality.

Now I have my own social network and travel site! And it took me about half an hour!

How do you best learn using the web?

Monday, February 26, 2007

We Live in Exponential Times

The rate of change in our world in exponential. Through Tony Karrer's blog, - a link to the video below:

Great music and a truly important message!

The Growing Impact of Web 2.0

Alja Sulčič describes the impact of web 2.0 on her daily activities, and suggests some questions arising from the changes the read/write web is bringing.

I'm really amazed at what big part Web 2.0 plays in my life (and I in its life). In just a few years it has entered our lives from different doors and it's growing stronger and more powerful days by day. And for this reason I agree with what Michael Wesch pointed out in his video - we really need to rethink a lot of things. Among these things I think that rethinking ourselves is one of the key points. We are being linked in previously unthinkable ways and our lives are being changed. What kind of changes is that bringing us? Are the changes improving our lives or crippling the social aspect of our analogue real lives as some fear?

The answers to these questions are many - and there should be. For me the most important changes are the feeling of connectedness, the feeling of responsibility, the need to share and the trust systems that the users of Web 2.0 are building among each other (just take for example Wikipedia). These are the changes I find most valuable and that I hope I (and others) will be able to keep and use not just for a better and more useful Web 2.0, but also to build a better future - together, by connecting are ideas and constructing new worlds.

If you want to understand more about how web 2.0 is affecting people, both young and old, I recommend the whole post - - and the comments.

Image - "Open Clip Art Library/Clip Art." Open Clip Art Library. 24 Feb. 2007 .

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

eLearning Explained

If you aren't sure what eLearning is currently, and want to have a richer understanding, I recommend Tony Karrer's post on it - What is eLearning 2.0? -

We are in the midst of the biggest change in communications since the printing press, and it is affecting both the methods of teaching/learning, and the content. We need to learn what we can, and use it when we can.

Monday, February 19, 2007

After the Crash: A Final Accounting

Well, my computer is as back to normal as I can get it. Some stuff was recovered, some was replaced, and some was lost forever.

What was Recovered
Many of my Word files were recovered, Not all; I keep discovering that something I know I had is missing. But, thanks to the service people at Canadian Computer on Speers in Oakville, I have much to be grateful for.
  • most of my applications were recovered, so I have the work set-up I'm used to.
  • many of my Word files were recovered but not the files from the course that I worked hardest on. I might be able to salvage some information from the histories of pages in the course wiki, but ...
  • my old poetry is gone and I only have some of it in hard copy.
  • and there's more that I will discover missing in the future, I suppose.

Some Replacements
  • I've downloaded QuickImage again, so I can easily turn my screenshots into jpegs for uploading to Flickr
  • I've downloaded Audacity and Lame so I can make MP3s
  • I'm going to get my podcasts set up in iTunes again

Lost Forever
  • my pictures. Some were in Flickr, but I use that mainly to provide images for my blogs. Many of my personal pictures are gone.
  • As I mentioned earlier, much of my older poetry is gone, and much of my carefully collected and built course materials are gone.
  • My Address Book and all my email files are gone

Lessons Learned
  • Backup, backup, backup!!!
  • At least for now, I'm forwarding all my email addresses to my gmail account, so I can store my addresses and the messages I save online.
  • Using online services, like for bookmarking and Bloglines for collecting blog urls, is not just social, it's a safety move. What I had online, I still have.

What I've Added
  • I now have a 120 GB hard drive, bigger than the one that crashed.
  • I now have a 640 MB RAM, much bigger than I used to have.

So I've learned a lot, more about the mechanics of computers, more about the wise use of my computer (did I mention you should backup your files?) and that my computer is my external brain, but that I can rebuild and repair it when accidents happen.

A Dark Note
I was going to add a photo of my computer that I had stored in Flickr, but Flickr appears to be closed down for now. Even online is not a complete safety net. Backup!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

After the Crash!

Well the people who worked on my crashed Mac iBook G4 returned it to me with most of my programs on it, but with small things missing, like the Spell Checker in Word. Not really such a small thing, as I type quickly and need the backup. There were, however, no documents pictures or other data!

When I went into Finder and found everything empty, I couldn't believe it! I felt shaky. I started to enumerate all that I no longer had - pictures, and poetry, and saved pdf downloads, and all my documents from teaching materials to business records. I was not happy.

I called the people who had replaced my fried drive and I think I sounded quite pathetic as I begged them to see if there wasn't at least some data. They asked if I had back-ups; I confessed to being stupid. They said they'd try again, but it would take a long time. The other option was to send the fried drive to a lab and pay a couple of thousand dollars. I said I'd wait to see what they could do, and not to send it to the lab ('cause no way was I paying $2000.00, even if I had been really, really stupid.)

I ignored documents and data for a couple of days, just doing web work, and re-configuring what I needed to do that. Then, when I was looking for something else, I discovered a cache of backups from 2004. (I'm really bad with organizing material objects - I'm much better at organizing files, - and I will get in the habit of backing them up!)

So I took my 2004 CDs, which I hadn't made, but a technician had made them at the school where I worked when my assignment changed and I'd had to move from an IBM laptop to a Mac. (I wouldn't want you to think I used to be smart; someone else had done it for me.)

By that time, I was grateful to have anything. I dragged the files that were still useful over onto my new hard drive and began to put my external brain together again. And began to face the idea of re-creating work I had already done and lost. (Stupid! Stupid! Stooped!)

Today, I rewrote a consulting report on a website, and I think I actually improved it because I changed the structure and made it problem - suggested solution, problem - suggested solution rather than the more traditional business structure with all the recommendations at the end. This structure will be easier, I think, for the website owner to understand & implement.

Then - a reward for the virtues of acceptance and rewriting - the people with my fried drive called and said they got some of the document files off it. Tomorrow, I find out what has been returned to me. And I promise, promise, promise to back-up daily!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Getting Help with New Media Tools!

Through Stephen Downes and Mark Federman,
new media tools have always been difficult to learn without help!
Link here for an amusing illustration from YouTube

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

eLearning Technology: K-12 Blogging, Wiki and Social Bookmarking Resources

eLearning Technology: K-12 Blogging, Wiki and Social Bookmarking Resources
I suggest Wikispaces - - which is free for K - 12, and can be made private so only (class) members can see it. It also has a (WYSIWYG) visual editor that is similar to a 'lite' word-processing application, and therefore very easy.

I also recommend Elgg Spaces - - &/or - - because blogging and friending and Community Blogs and lots of other wonderful social things are free there, plus it's an academic environment where each person can set their own privacy (or not) level. As well, I believe people (teachers) can set up free (private) group blogs in Blogger.

I recommend she explore my blog WebToolsforLearners - - where I post about useful, free tools for teachers and students.

Friday, February 02, 2007

When My Computer Crashed ...

When my computer crashed, I borrowed one. Those of my fellow web-addicts will still be cringing and crying out, "It's not the same!" And that's true. My own computer has all my files, plus an extensive collection of bookmarks on my Personal Toolbar, not to mention the mail application I'm used to.

So what am I doing writing a Blogger post? I'm writing to describe the backups I have, and the ones I will create when I get my computer back next week.

I write this blog for two kinds of readers, who may, in fact overlap. I write it for people learning how to use the web as part of their own personal learning, whether informal or education or job related. Second, I write this for teachers and students who want to use aspects of the web in their classrooms or for homework uses. (You can see the overlap!) So now the good news about what I am still able to (easily) do even on a borrowed computer.
  • I can write this post. I searched for my blog title using Google and found it at the top of the list. I knew my user name and password, so I could log in and write. The same is true for my other blogs. They are easy to find, and all I need is Google and my registration info. Which brings me to some bad news about where I store my registrations, which I'll get to later.
Breaking News
The phone just rang and I heard bad news from the computer repair guys. My hard drive is toast. Perhaps some of the data can be recovered, but I'll need a new drive or a new machine. ARGHH!!!!!!!

I love my Mac iBook. It was the first laptop I owned, and the fifth computer, and second platform, I wrote my thesis on. It was loaded with all kinds of nice programs, and I used many of them. It was beautiful in appearance and operation! I don't want to believe it's dead, but the repair guys have been helpful and money-saving before, so I trust them. Arghh;-(

Back to the good news and I'll get to the other bad news later.
  • I've put a lot of my work on the web. So most of my (important) pictures are on Flickr, and a few of my word files are on Box (but not enough - I've been negligent about back-up. That's the real bad news! I've been careless about backup and may have lost everything I haven't backed up, and that's a lot!) Sorry - back to the good news.
  • All my blogs are safely up on the web.
  • My wikis are safe on the web.
  • My big bookmark collection, in, is safe on the web.
  • My RSS collection is safe on the web, in Bloglines, - though I've been reading a lot of good things about Google Reader and thinking of transferring.
  • I can get to my two conventional email accounts by using webmail, which I find visually unattractive and operationally limited and slow, but hey! I can get my mail, and my Gmail, already on the web, is safely there.
  • And my most recent good move, which I thought I'd wasted time on and now find a lifesaver - I set up my own Google Account with my own personalized Google Homepage and filled it with widgets and links.
So my overall good news, is anything up on the web is safe and accessible.

My bad news is I have to get a new hard drive or laptop and I may have lost extensive data because I didn't back up.

My (unsolicited) advice: Backup, backup and backup! And put as much as you can up on the web for easy retrieval.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Engrade - A Wonderful Teacher's Tool

Engrade - - is a wonderful teacher's tool. If you want to share marks with individual students privately online, and aren't on a Learning Management System like Desire2Learn, Moodle, or BlackBoard/WebCT, Engrade is just what you need. With Engrade you can post your students' marks, and they can use the password you assign individually to see their marks. Plus you can then download your class records into an Excel worksheet and save them there.

It's free and straightforward. You set up a class, add the students' names, and give them their own individual password, (I did that by email). When you've finished marking an assignment, you add the marks to Engrade and make them accessible.

I used it with my 3rd year university students last term and it worked just fine. They checked their marks, I got some emailed queries, but I simply answered those, and found it far smoother than discussions about marks in class. Some after-class conversations still happened, but most students were happy with the system - if not the marks ;->

The best thing was that they had adjusted to their marks before they got their assignment or assignment comments back, and, when they got them back, could focus more on my feedback and less on the mark.

Friday, January 12, 2007

SlideShare on Blogging

I've mentioned SlideShare, the YouTube for presentations, before -  I like to browse it sometimes  and just read what I find. Dr. Steven Warburton has put up an interesting set of slides on student blogging - - I recommend it, and using the full screen mode.

I found it quite interesting, a bit different from mine.

I used an Elgg Community Blog which gave my students some control over how public, or not, their post was, set topics, often based on current readings, and required they write in it for a portion of their marks. Oral Rhetoric was classroom based, but the frequent writing paired with personal icons, either their photos or a chosen image, created a kind of threading in which we could, with a quick glance, see who the writer was.

The setting of weekly questions scaffolded the students in learning how to use a blog, which many, if not most, were uncomfortable with, especially using it for an educational purpose. As I believe they will sometimes be using blogs for professional purposes in their futures, I wanted them to begin to understand that there are different genres of blogs, and different rhetorical approaches - which I've explored here,

I wrote up my opinion of blogs used as part of a learning / teaching strategy -  - I believe that that blogs can be used in many ways, and that they are especially important in creating learning communities.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Switching Platforms? From Mac to Windows

Kathy Sierra, in a post in Creating Passionate Users links this video her daughter Skyler made about switching from a Mac to Windows. Enjoy!!!

Courtesy of Donna Papacosta