Thursday, June 25, 2009


I was talking with Angie this week about socialbookmarking with Delicious. She was preparing to attend a workshop on Delicious, and I was trying to explain why I've enjoyed socialbookmarking and how it's helped me out. And I thought, "There's my blog for this week."

There are many tutorials and videos that do a very good job of explaining socialbookmarking, and sites like Delicious and similar sites like Diigo, so I'm going to stick to three ways I think socialbookmarking, and specifically Delicious, can be a valuable tool.
  • Web-based Access- I've blogged about cloud computing and its benefits. Delicious is "cloudbookmarking." If you bookmark a site locally on a computer, you can't access it from other computers, and if the harddrive crashes your bookmarks are lost. A few years ago I had an excel spreadsheet with many links I would carry around on a flash drive-which I would often misplace. I needed an option that allowed better access to my bookmarks. Delicious allows access from any computer (or device) connected to the Internet.
  • My Network- Socialbookmarking is allows me to access other user's bookmarks and gives them access to mine. It's not really "social" for me; it's more about having a "network" to connect with and benefit from their ideas. This all feeds the idea of having your own personal learning network. Want to pick the brain of colleagues or pioneers in a field? Delicious is a great way to do it. Check out Marlo's links regarding copyright. Look what Wes Fryar has on Internet safety. How about my links tagged "antivirus," which I have sent to several friends who needed help with their home computers. Your network can be a great tool for finding relevant information on the Internet and pulling or pushing links out to others.
  • Exploration & Search Tool- Although it is unlikely to replace your favorite search engine, Delicious can deliver a look at what all users are tagging. I've occasionally found good links from the main page (which lists the "most popular bookmarks on Delicious" at the time) or by searching tags. It is important to note that although I've not seen sites I would consider inappropriate, the searches may yield results that could be blocked by web filters or just might be like searching for the needle in the haystack. Sometimes you have to have some time to search to find resources.
If you are interested in socialbookmarking, there is a workshop offered by our department, or you can take a look around at

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Why Twitter Deserves Your Attention

A few weeks ago I mentioned to one of my college buddies that I had been using Twitter and wondered if he had an account. Since then he has been occasionally sending me clever little emails like the following:
Wondering whether to fix a sandwich or go out to lunch. I am leaning towards going out.

He assumes Twitter, as advertised, is about "What are you doing?" and that most of the updates are about reporting on the real time (mundane) details of one's life. He is not alone. I think a lot of folks are wondering about Twitter and its uses.

Prior to setting up an account I thought "Do I really need another account to keep up with and do I really have time for this?" What can Twitter do for me? But curiosity got the best of me, and although I have seen posts that just report on"what are you doing?" I've found it is a powerful way to communicate ideas. So I'm humbly submitting a few thoughts on how I've used Twitter and share maybe why it might deserve your attention:
  • PLN builder- In past blog entries I've shared some of the blogs I follow with my RSS feedreaders. Twitter, like the feeds from blogs, can be a great tool for continuing to build on your own personal learning network (PLN). Twitter is another way to connect with people and promote important ideas. Because Twitter is limited to 140 characters, tweets are concise and ideas are often updated more quickly than a blog, but tweets can be useful in promoting ideas because the tweets can include a link to a url. One of my first tweets included a link to an blog entry from about why "retweeting" is important. Retweeting is simply sharing someone else's tweet. You retweet if you think your followers might benefit someone else's thought or idea. I've already benefited from the tweets of others and ideas that have been shared with Twitter.
  • Real-time news- Over the weekend while the Iranian elections where taking place, I was reading up on it on Twitter. Instead of getting the CNN version I was getting real time updates from "trending topics." The trending topics (on the lefthand side) measure the topics receiving the most tweets. Although you have to evaluate the source, Twitter allows everyone with an account and network access to report on events. I remember when the plane landed in the Hudson River recently, Twitter was one of the first sources for news. And another friend of mine who uses Twitter follows Lance Armstrong, who uses Twitter to bypass the media and share information with his followers. Twitter gives you real time, unfiltered access to information.
  • Conversations/Feedback- Twitter can be a tool for conversations. April tried this with a post earlier this year, asking what students gain from using technology in their classrooms."Twitter allows you to get immediate feedback from those answering your tweet. So you can tap the knowledge of your followers for feedback or ideas. I've seen national speakers, like Will Richardson and David Warlick, use Twitter in this way during conferences and get really interesting feedback. Although you may not have many responses at first (April :) it is a starting point.
So although I am not guilty of twittering extremes I do think this could be a useful tool for educators and students. And I'm not the only one. Recently the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies asked teachers to rank their Top 100 Learning Tools 2009 and Twitter was number one (up from 11 in 2008). So look around and kick the tires. See what Twitter can do for you.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Gender Gap & Computer Science

Recently Danah Boyd, researcher and fellow at the BerkmanCenter for Internet Safety, blogged on "gender gap in perception of computer science" which cited a recent study about the perception girls have about careers in computer science. The big stat that stood out to me was when asked about computer science as a career choice "only 9% of girls rates it 'very good' and 17% as 'good'."
This reminded me of April's blog a few weeks ago entitled Tech Girls , which also addressed the gender gap in computer related fields. As a father of a daughter and someone who works with technology, this alarms me. Some (like Bill Gates) believe computing is the new literacy for the 21st century. How might the perception of computer-related careers be impacting our current female students standing in a 21st century global economy? How do you change these perceptions?
It is a complex issue that I don't have an answer for. But I do think this first-grade classroom has a great video to start the conversation. This was the winner of the K-5 category for the Interwrite TeacherTube Makeover Contest.
If you haven't seen it yet it is worth a look.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Wonder Wheel Experience

When it comes to browsers and search engines, I’m always looking for some new element—something that will add to the experience. The Google Wonder Wheel won’t replace my traditional search process, but it has an interesting visual way to organize the results from a search. And the Wonder Wheel can help make connections to a topic or narrow a search for a broad term.

Enter a search term and when the results are displayed select “show options."

Wonder Wheel will appear as one the options on the left-hand side of the screen.

Your selected results will appear with your original search term in the center with related terms in a connected web circling the term. Click on any of the related topics and a new web is created. Links to the terms in the web are located on the right.

You can see that the Wheel is easy to use and is a great way to show connections between related search terms.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Blogs to Follow

Following blogs and sharing their information is a big step in growing your learning network. One of the steps I take every morning is to check RSS feeds from some of my favorite blogs – a step similar to browsing a digital newspaper. I decided to use this week’s post to share some of the blogs I currently follow related to K-12 educational technology.

Here are five blogs you might consider following:

David Warlick’s 2 cents Worth
Following his blog is not a new idea. His was one the first I began to follow after hearing him at a conference three years ago. I think everyone I know in Ed Tech follows him, but I really think his ideas about education, technology and the future of schools are worth reading.

Will Richardson’s Weblogg-ed
Same as above. I’ve detailed my following of Will Richardson in previous blog entries.

Mr. Byrne’s FreeTech4Teachers
Mr. Byrne’s blog is a wealth of tech resources with ideas of ways to integrate them into the classroom. And he keeps getting new ideas. It’s not uncommon for him to post five or six times a day – so be ready. He’s a great scout of new technology and has been a good addition to my RSS reader.

I still like to browse this NCLearn’s blog dedicated to finding technology to use in the classroom. Their topics are varied and address a lot of practical tools for teachers. This is another good place to start if you want follow a blog.

Wes Fryer’s Moving at the Speed of Creativity
Wes Fryar, like Warlick and Richardson, is another national figure in Ed Tech. His posts are not always about education or technology (today’s post was on the issue of torture), but many are and I’ve found his views on copyright, Internet safety and digital citizenship to be enlightening.

So dear reader, who are you reading?