Tuesday, November 6, 2012

21st Century Librarian: The Future

Sharing a Vision


I needed to share my new vision of the role of a 21st century teacher-librarian.  I wanted to share my vision with parents, teachers and administrators in my school since I can't do my job without effectively collaborating with in creating learning opportunities and experiences for students.

I find the best adult learning and dialogue in our school environment  happens one-on-one, often in the hallway or staffroom. A lot of the best learning is just-in-time learning. As a result I decided to create a resource about my vision of a 21st century librarian. I wanted to create a reference resource about my role that I could direct staff and parents to as a follow-up or extension to our one-on-one conversations.

I chose to captialize on the wiki I am creating for my school. I thought if I were to share my vision I could also make it interactive and collaborative as well as open up the opportunity for  ascychronous conversations. I chose the wiki also because I felt it would not be a threatening or overly novel form of technology that would scare off peers and parents. I could also use the wiki to create links to my learning blog which I thought would help illustrate some of the concepts of 21st century learning. I also hope it would help build some credibility by sharing that I grappled and struggled with these tools and despite the need to invest precious time still found them extremely valuable.

Unfortunately, I am a little disappointed with my result.I think my choice of going for a less novel presentation tool may work against generating interest. I think what I ended up with was a rather text heavy explanation of my vision. It is a bit of information overload and does require a reader to be pretty jazzed about teacher-librarianship to read the entire resource through. What it needs is a greater variety of media that provide illustrations of what I am envisioning as my role as a 21st century teacher-librarian and provide alternate ways to provide input besides just text.

Fortunately, since my presentation is a wiki, I can invite other teacher-librarians I know to collaborate with me and contribute to my wiki and hopefully create a more inviting and powerful presentation. I would like to create a VoiceThread about learning commons and another about Web 2.0 tools and put them at the top of my webpage. I think this may be more inviting and draw out more contributions.

How Far I Have Come




I can't believe the difference a few months can make in one's professional development. I feel giddy about what I have been able to learn and the potential of the tools I have been introduced to.  I knew a little about some tools and concepts prior to studying them this term. However,I had no sense of confidence or even purpose for these tools  in education until I was exposed to some of the excellent reading material and took the time to just plunge in and play.

My greatest confidence comes from discovering that past technology skills, no matter how old, do have some transferrability to Web 2.0 tools. Yes there has been a revolution in the web but it is not devoid of connections to the original world wide web. I think all technology learners can take some comfort in this.

Some of the greatest learning aids in the past few months have been the use of content aggregators such as Google Reader, social bookmarking and blogging. The ability to sift through large amounts of information using a reader and organize through social bookmarking was a huge stress reliever and time saver.

I also found the blogging extremely rewarding. I have blogged for other courses but I think I only broke out of blogging as a mere diary of learning to the sharing of learning in the past few months. There is no doubt that when you teach a skill you greatly increase the retention of these concepts.

Where I need to Go

I have learned a great deal about how to operate many powerful web tools but I have not learned as much about how to use them with students. My first steps have been to use these tools for personal learning and to collaborate with colleagues. Even though the course readings and the blogs of my peers were rife with ideas and suggestions on how to integrate them, I have been unable to internalize many of these suggestions because I was not knowledgeable of the tools. I think I am now ready to review and reread articles and posts about using these tools with students. I know I can start small by chosing just one idea. Taking one risk should build momentum to take many others.

I also am recognizing the need to change my daily routines to allow more time for keeping up with social bookmarking, following RSS feeds and to participate in social networking activites. There is great potential to build  a vibrant personal learning network which will maintain motivation to take these tools into the classroom. I am beginning to move past seeing the value of these tools to becoming convinced of their necessity.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sharing Really Simple Syndication with My School Community

I have learned an incredible amount about Web 2.0 tools in the past couple of months. I think the world of Really Simple Syndication and aggregators is the one I was the most ignorant about. I had seen the little orange icon on all sorts of news sites but never took the time to learn more about it. I realize now, that no one can really thrive in the information age without using an aggregation site and subscribing to feeds. I found the chapter called "RSS: The Killer App for Educators" in Will Richardson's book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Webtools for Classrooms an excellent crash course.
I did a little more web browsing on the topic and came across this informative graphic that explains the basic concept of RSS.
 



 

After learning through my current coursework how to use Google Reader to read the blogs of my peers from one location, I began looking at how I could bring it into my work as a teacher-librarian and administrator. Subscribing to feeds from some of the best technology and teacher-librarian blogs and news sites to support my own professional development was a goods start. The discipline and routine of going to my Google Reader page every day is still a work in progress.

My next step was to learn how to bring the power of RSS into my school community. I thought the best place to start was to share information  with students and parents by embedding feeds and combinations of feeds into my school wiki.

I started by creating a parent news page on my wiki and then embedding a bundle of related feeds into the page. I combined five feeds together by making a Google bundle (see below). I embedded the information in two ways. The first was taking the link of my bundle and pasting into Wikispaces RSS feed widget and set it to show 20 articles at once (possibly risking information overload for any one reading the wiki page).The second way was by copying the Java embed code from the bundle and pasting it into generic widget on my wiki which embeds display box of the five feeds on a webpage that can be clicked on so users can subscribe to it using their own RSS aggregator.

Flushed by that success, I then decided to make another page on my wiki for current events projects. I created a RSS feed by turning a search of Google News into an RSS feed and embedding that into a wikipage (see below).

 Google Bundles

Within Google Reader you can make a bundle out of all the feeds you organized into a folder. When the bundle is created you can share it on your public Google Plus page or you can paste the Java Script into a blog, wiki or website so others can subcribe to them. I have an example the subscription bundle I made below. I put the same posting on the wiki I set up for school as an embedded feed and as a subscription box. I have created a screencast that shows the steps.



Creating a News Feed Using Google News

You can view the Jing screencast I created that explains how to make an RSS feed from Google News and paste it into a Wikispace page.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Twitter

I didn't understand Twitter.

 
When I first heard about Twitter I thought there wasn't a chance it was going to go anywhere. As we all know it has grown by leaps and bounds. It has been instrumental in political change and shed light on some pretty awful and some pretty wonderful stuff happening in the world. I still didn't get how it worked and after some time with it I still have a ways to go to be a true fan now.
 
My daughter calls Twitter a text app for those who don't have anyone to text to. Perhaps a bit of a harsh assessment but I have to admit I pretty much agreed.  It seemed all about self-centeredness and navel gazing. Who cares that Justin Beiber bought new pants!
 

I am starting to get what Twitter is about.

Apprentissage-Personal-Learning-Network-PNL_theMolisticView-CC-by-nc-sa-3
 
When Richardson explained in his book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Tools for Classrooms that Twitter was a microblogging tool it helped me get a better understanding of the tool and changed my perspective a little. I could get my head around blogging to some degree. I admit that I had a bias against blogging too until I had a lot of exposure through my recent online courses. Blogging can still be a practice of paying too much attention to yourself or the value of what you have to offer. However, I am beginning to learn that the Internet is very democractic so you just vote with a click of the mouse and move past the banal and chow down on the quality. Unfortunately you still can spend a lot of time sorting through vacuous text (perhaps mine included) before you find the good stuff. 

Learning that Twitter can be used to build a personal learning network was when I finally got it. You find insightful people in your field and you can get an education pretty quickly-even on demand or just in time learning when you make a tweet requesting help. Again it is all about collaboration as Richardson illustrates in his book by sharing a link to Twitter Collaboration Stories.


Twitter and URLs

I haven't made Twitter a big object of study but I have learned a few odd tidbits that might be of interest.  In the textbooks I have been reading for this course I kept reading tinyurl.com and bitly combined with odd letter and number combinations. I didn't understand that the web addresses in the textbooks had been created using a web-basedURL shortening services. At TinyURL you just paste in a very long URL that is will shorten it into a very short permanent link to that page that won't expire (unless the page is actually taken down). They are much shorter to write anywhere but in a Tweet that is limited to 140 characters they have an even higher value.

Here is a little more information on how to shorten URLs on Twitter.

Keeping Up With the Tweets  

My problem is I can't handle the volume of information. Twitter is just one more information stream competing for my attention. I hate to say it but it is loosing the battle almost completely at the moment.  But I am trying to fight back in two ways.

The first and best thing I have been able to do after finding some good people to follow is to set up my Delicious account to gather all the great links embedded in the tweets. I just have to make sure I get to my Delicious account to tag them.

I have been fighting to get to my Google reader and am making progress on making this a regular habit. So it occurred to me why don't I just follow people on Twitter in my reader. I Googled whether it was possible and here is what I learned from Bill Peschel:

Get the twitter account name you want to follow and take off the @ sign and add it to the end of the following:

https://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/user_timeline.rss?screen_name=

Then just paste all of the above into your subscribe box in Google Reader and you have a direct feed into your reader account. You can also use your reader to find out about a person or subject mentioned in tweets. Just do the following if you wanted to get all tweets that mentioned educational technology author Will Richardson.

http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=Will%20Richardson

 “%20″ is just computer code for a space.



Social Networking in Education

Social Networking: What are educators looking for?

 
It seems like many Web 2.0 applications have a social networking component which has complicated what we exactly mean when we talk about social networking sites. I did a quick Google image search to see what would come up when I searched social networking.  I found quite a mashup of Youtube, Diigo, Facebook, Flickr and the like. The focus of this blogpost will be sites that have social networking as their mandate or raison d'etre. Facebook is the posterchild for what comes to mind when social networking is mentioned but not what most educators are looking to use with their students. The educational environment brings demands for safety, the ability to moderate, customize and freedom from advertising. Oh, and there is that whole issue of cost too.  Most educators don't have ready cash for buying online services. 
 

Which Site to Use: The tyranny of the dollar vs the down side of advertising!

It is a growing issue in education that a larger and larger portion of library and educational resource budgets need to be set aside to pay for a plethora of online services.  As all the players on the web are trying to figure out how to make money on the web there have been casualties and there are going to be a lot more on the way.  Look at advertisement rich Facebook. Even though this Goliath is hoping to boast a billion users in the not too distant future, investors are not too sure this will be highly profitable. If that is a problem for Facebook how are the smaller services going to support themselves? For this reason the biggest social media tool for educators, Ning, had to become a fee based service for everyone (no exceptions for educators).
 
From what I have read and seen Ning is still the best act in town when it comes to setting up a social network for use in a school setting. I tried it out and it has some of the same feel of Facebook, Wikispaces and Blogger combined without the advertising.  There is the ability to customize and many ways to add content from other web sources.
 

Ning: There still is the free option of Mini-Ning accounts! 

There is some good news for those for us who are still getting our feet wet.  You don't have to go for broke and pay the minimum of $25 a month to have a full Ning account. Pearson has left the door open for small Nings of up to 150 users.  You must first signup up for a Mini Ning account and create a Ning which initially commits you to a  membership fee of a few dollars a month and immediately after sign up for sponsorship through Pearson . If you are accepted your subscription is covered for up to three years.  The catch is that there is an ad at the top of your Ning saying it is sponsored by Pearson and you must also invite a Pearson representative to be member of your Ning so as to keep you accountable (you now have 148 more members you can invite). It is really hard to get around corporate partnership in the classroom when you want everything to be "free".
 
Here is the shell of the Ning I created by applying for a Mini Ning account. It is easier to use than a Wikispace and feels a bit like a simplified blog crossed with a version of Facebook that is much easier to navigate and understand. I really need to look back at the literature and see how to intergrate this environment with my teaching.  All the literature makes it sound like the holy grail of Web 2.0.. It does look to have a lot of potential but I think I need to take small steps.
 
For the moment I have made this Ning public for the whole world to see (and even join) so that you can see it. I also can make just the main page public and leave everything else private but it still allows anyone to join simply by clicking the join button. The other option is to keep the whole Ning private and still let anyone join or to make it invitation only. There is a bit of all or nothing associated with Ning, unless a full Ning account allows for more viewing options. This can be problematic if you are considering making your Ning a showcase that limits contributers like a wiki can.

If Not Ning, Then Nothing?

There was quite a bit of buzz in 2010 years ago when Ning first announced it was doing away with free educators account and then starting Mini Ning accounts. In October 2012 it abruptly stated it was doing away with Mini Ning effective immediately with the exception of Pearson sponsored accounts for educators mentioned above. 
I read some of the posts about what educators could use as a free alternative. One of the first sites I looked at about alternatives to Ning  is notable in its mention of an add-on to Word Press called BuddyPress.  I think there is a lot here . If you are already using WordPress this would seem like the way to go.  You can capture all the benefits of blogging with your class and add a lot more social networking features. You just aren't going to be creating a social network on the massive scale possible with Ning. I hope to learn a lot more about WordPress  and its add-on features in the near future when I study the world of blogging and education.
 
In the same blog post I mentioned above Drupal is mentioned. It doesn't sound like something for those who don't want to get a little messy with technology. My impression is that you want to be tech savvy and like to do design and setup before you want to get using the tool. This may be just my ignorance  (please correct me) but I still don't feel like using it as a starting point.

There was one blog post that was encyclopedic in its listing of alternatives to Ning and shows what costs if any are associated with each. It is a good place to get an idea of the breadth and depth of what is available.

Qlubb: Quick and easy tool for projects, clubs and PACs

When I read in Berger and Trexler's Choosing Web 2.0 Tools for Learning and Teaching in a Digital World that Qlubb is an application for book clubs I was intrigued. It is a dead easy to use environment for any organization that wants to have less meetings or to just keep the outcomes of meetings organized. I have worked as a vice principal and principal and I immediately saw it as useful tool for school PACs, school clubs, staff committees, or even as an information clearing house for an elementary school to keep everyone up-to-date and maximize involvement in school activities. It has potential for helping with collaboration with whole class projects. I especially see the polling and calendar features as having lots of potential.

If you have a DestinyQuest catalogue you have a social network for readers!

I mentioned MyQuest in a  previous post.  If you have not tried it, it is a great safe way to get kids doing some social networking and learn the etiquette and pitfalls involved.  I have had quite a few teachable moments when kids chose to cross some lines. There is the ability to monitor reviews and there is a report abuse button on nearly every page. Here is the link again to my partial DestinyQuest introduction.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Web 2.0 Presentation Applications: Voicethread and Glogster

This week my task as indicated in my course calendar is to explore Web 2.0 presentation applications. I scratched my head a bit thinking to myself, isn't that we have been doing throughout this course?  The chapter title of my reading for this week was "Media Sharing".  Didn't I just do that when I looked into YouTube, Teacher Tube and the like? It all is starting to run together--it is all Web 2.0 isn't it?  I am coming to understand that the another use of the term Web 2.0 is as a handy adjective used to describe any kind of web-based tool that is highly  interactive and truly mutlimedia.

VoiceThread


When I looked into Voicethread I felt like I needed to use the term WEB 2.0 in all caps, bold and underlined. Voicethread shows how far web-based applications have become. They are truly interactive and you can see how the whole idea of software residing on your computer hard drive somewhere is becoming more and more a relic of the past.  

I plunged into Voicethread after reading about it in Berger and Trexler's Choosing Web 2.0 Tools for Learning and Teaching in a Digital World. The textbook was just dripping with ideas of what one can do with this application. It was exciting to read but difficult to quite visualize how to carry out these projects in the classroom. As a result, I put all the thinking about the application of this program to classroom learning on hold.  I just grabbed the nonthreatening idea of making a presentation (which I knew wasn't a very collaborative or necessarily interactive topic) so I could have a reason to learn the application. 

I remember reading somewhere that good technology is transparent. The idea is not to make technology the object of study (which happens far to often in school "computer classes"). I strongly believe this but  ironically I also have discovered the only way I can consider the transparency of a tool is, if for a brief time at least, to make it the fully visible object of study. Once I have learned how to operate the tool I am better prepared to grapple with how to apply it and use it in the classroom and evaluate if my students will quickly lose their focus on the tool and really get into the content and concepts they are working with.

Posted below is my first work with Voicethread.  It ended up taking way more time than I thought even though it seems straight forward. It took away from my time with other Web 2.0 tools. Is this a sign of low transparency or did I just get sucked in by my interest in the presentation topic. I think the latter is true in this case.
https://voicethread.com/share/3536174/





What I found very useful in Voicethread was the ability to give yourself multiple identies.  I made a presentation and I was the only commentary.  I could create mutliple identities and mimic what commenting would look like. I can see this as a way to jumpstart a voicethread by modelling different kinds input to my students.

Having done my exploration work I was ready to consider more about classroom use.  The Digitally Speaking Wiki's tutorial on Voicethread is astoundingly thorough. If you haven't checked it out, do so now.

I think VoiceThread is a must use tool and that with more frequent use has the potential to become more transparent over time.
 






I have used Glogster a bit but not in the classroom but still was able to inspire a teacher colleague to give it a go. The kids made glogs that were reports on nonfiction books they had read. She didn't give a lot of criteria for the project but the main point was to sell the idea of reading the book to someone else by give clues as to the content and what makes it so interesting or useful to read.  As with my comments about transparency earlier in this blog post, it was necessary to make Glogster an object of study for this first project. Kids were pretty wrapped up in the features and trying to figure out how to make thier content fit the features rather than the other way around. Glogster did become more transparent when the kids used a Smartboard to present their glogs to their peers.  The kids started to become more engaged and enthusiastic with the content although the visual razzle dazzle was a bit of a distraction for the first bit.


Tool Transparency is Important


The biggest challenge we had was making the entire glog visible all at one time on the screen. We had to do a lot of scrolling.  We eventually resorted to using the web browser's zoom feature. This was fine since the image was already enlarged because it was on a Smartboard. Otherwise I find this quite a maddening feature of Glogster. Why don't they change the poster aspect to one that is landscaped and that fits the nature of a computer screen? Have I missed something here? The glog in this way does not have the transparency I would like.

I do love the ability to embed a glog into a web page. I intend to take the idea in Berger and Trexler on page 144, and make a new navigation page for our library that lays out all the electronic resources in graphic form. Here is the Oaklawn Elementary Library Glog embedded.



I am not a huge Glogster fan, I think there are other tools I would spend more time with but I can see why others are making it work in the classroom and beyond.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wikis

 
I spent a fairly intense day exploring and working on my first Wikispace wiki.  I can see lots of potential. Click on the link above and sneek a peak at my first effort of getting a shell started. It is more experimenting and imagining. It all can be changed and I don't need to figure it out all by myself either. I need to invite some collaborators really soon.

What am I going to use it for first?

After some reflection I decided to set up an all purpose wiki for my teacher-librarian and technology teacher duties.  I feel I can immediately integrate wikis into my life by using it as a collaborative place to post tutorials for teachers and staff.  I discovered Jing through my course readings and am finding all sorts of ways to use it. I often am asked to write up instructions about new technologies or tools in our school. A wiki is a great place to post this information which more often than not can now take the form of a screencast. At staff meetings there invariably is someone sharing what they learned at a workshop or just picked up along the way.  A lot of good ideas, solutions or procedures shared in this environment fall through the cracks.  Now staff can be post it to the wiki.

Another ongoing need is regarding scheduling for the library and computer lab. Some slots are reserved on a weekly basis, others for a term and some for the year. Many teachers lesson plan at home and think of using the lab or library at the last minute. With a Google Calendar embedded in the wiki they can see what is available. Hopefully I can figure out how they can sign up online as well.

I can also see using this wiki as a showcase for student and class work. Students and teachers will be able to upload their own work rather than ask me to post work to our school website.

I believe these are the first baby steps that can open up the world of wikis to everyone in the school. Truely collaborative projects will hopefully follow.

I have created part of the wiki shell today and will continue to play. Hopefully I can share it with staff when I get back from my leave of absence.

Making it Happen

When I signed up for my account I chose the option of making my wiki look like a website. Sign up was incredibly fast and I could begin working immediately.  I found out that I didn't have all the full privileges of an educator's account right away. It all looked like the upgraded version until I looked at adding members.  It said I could only add five members.  I went to the upgrade link and was immediately upgraded to an account that allows me to create up to 100 members.

I hadn't realized how advanced a wiki could be. This wiki has more options than any online editor I used for creating a website.  I can see using Wikispaces for creating a new school website as a collaborative effort among staff. It would make for a much more dynamic space and the look and feel would not be too unsightly (don't judge attractiveness by my example). It would break the bottleneck we have for updating our website which just has one webmaster. In the past, I had considered replacing my fairly static old library website with a blog. Now I can see the possibility of a wiki with a blog feed would be even better.

I tried out a number of widgits and tried to link my wiki to a Google calendar, linking to my Diigo tags and adding images and screencasts I had made with Jing. It certainly takes time. I never used Google Calendars. I was able to create a separate calendar just for library and technology and then made it public.  I found out the hard way that if you don't make it public you just end up with a blank space on your wiki.

Wikispace allows you to add a tagroll anywhere on your wiki. This tagroll represents all the tags for all the pages on your wiki. It is great way to navigate around. I put a flat table of contents widget at the top of my first page. This makes a table of contents list out of all your Heading1 titles on that page. This is extremely useful if you start getting really long pages and don't have time to subdivide your content into more pages.

Adding pages was quick and I liked the fact that you could rename your pages as often as you liked. I still need to make some of the page names shorter since they clutter up my navigation bar.

I added my Diigo tags to my Library page by using the widget option called other HTML.  I copied the embed code made available from Diigo and adjusted the tag colours on the Diigo site to match my wiki colours.

I will need to spend more time wrapping my head around project pages. I like the fact that you can create  IDs for up to a 100 members of your wiki and they don't even need to have email accounts. I learned you can create a template or a content page that will show up each time you create a team. I am pretty fuzzy about how all the projects work especially how you make them public. The help menu is extensive but I started have my eyes glaze over after a while. I think you need to upgrade to a paid account to customize the settings to make projects public. Otherwise have the project people create a page and copy and paste information from their project area to the page. Post a comment in you have knowledge in this area.

I do some Scratch animation with my students so I tested embedding a Scratch animation into a project page. I first had to learn to upload to the Scratch site and then link Scratch to the page. It works great. So now kids can create their own portfolios on the wiki. As I said before I just have to figure out how to publish the projects so the world can see them. Until then I have a project showcase page.

All that work and no one except members can see it!

I wanted to see what my new wiki would look like when I logged out. It looked like very little since everything was private.  I went into the permissions settings and found out I had to pay one US dollar to get wiki verified to go public. It was a little surprising. I wonder if I still have a basic account or if the charge is levied on educator accounts as well? It is more a headache than a financial hardship though. I paid the buck and now everyone can see but only members can edit.

What next?


I think I will add wiki pages for each classroom division and post some information about how wikis are used in education. After that I will see if the wiki idea gets some traction.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Social Bookmarking

One of the great things about taking a course is that you are sometimes forced to look at things you would not have considered before; or in my case to revisit tools that I have yet to integrate into my digital life. It is little bit like eating more vegetables. You know you should because it is so good for you and you know they don't taste bad but for some reason you just don't get around to it or make it part of your regular diet.

Delicious is the Easier Option


I have used Delicious just occassionally over the past few years. My main obstacle to using it has been the locked down profiles in my workplace that does not allow me to place the bookmarking tool onto my toolbar.  Yes it is a bit lame but that is my excuse and I am sticking to it.  I can't explain why I don't use it on my home computer (maybe it was because I got a new laptop and haven't set it up yet--oh that was  already 2 years ago). It embarasses me that I have not worked harder to eliminate this road block at work. I think I am motivated again to talk to my school district's technology support and see if a solution is possible. When I look at it now if I use the feature that just adds a link to my Favorites Bar rather than the toolbar option I should be okay. I have encountered some student profiles don't allow the Favorites Bar to show by default.

There is not doubt that managing bookmarks or favorites is way too cumbersome these days, especially when you use mutliple computers. From what I have experienced of Delicious and Diigo, Delicious is the easier social bookmarking service to get your head around.  If you are going to engage in social bookmarking only for your own personal needs I think this is the way to go if you don't want to be overwhelmed. You don't even need to take advantage of the social networking component to benefit from this resource. However you probably don't want to miss out on the opportunity to tap into the "collective intelligence" that is out there (Choosing Web 2.0 Tools for Learning and Teaching in the Digital World p. 46).

A great feature of Delicious that I just activated is linking it to my Twitter account.  Everytime a good web resource is tweeted to me it automatically is added to my Delicious account. The websites are automatically tagged that they came from Twitter. I will need to regularly add other tags to these new resources or else I may end up with a backlog that I cannot face.  It you don't add more tags to these resources there is little point in using this service. 

 

Importing Internet Explorer Favorites into Delicious

If you are new to Delicious you might want to look at the brief screencast I just made about importing your favorites into Delicious. I have made this instructional screencast using Jing to show how to put your favorites from Internet Explorer into Delicious. I suspect most browsers have similiar export features.










Diigo Can be Used Everywhere

Diigo is the full meal deal of social bookmarking as far as I can see and ultimately is where teachers should really end up. Delicious has all the basics covered with unlimited tagging and the ability to follow and be followed by others.  If you are not an educator, student or academic that is probably all you would ever need or want. As an educator if want to see where Web 2.0 is really going then Diigo is it. But don't worry you don't need to give up on all you have done in Delicious. You can link your Diigo account to Delicious so everytime you add something to Diigo it is added in Delicious as well. Unfortunately it is not a reciprocal arrangment. You can however export all your bookmarks, tags and all, from Delicious and then import them into Diigo. It took a number of hours before the import into Diigo was complete when I did this.


I am an iPhone and iPad user and Diigo has apps for both of these devices. This makes social bookmarking a reality in all situations since all of my uses of technology are covered.

Diigo Annotates

What Diigo can do in terms of annotation of actual webpages and creating dialogue among users is staggering. See my example of annotating a webpage below.


In the section above about Delicious, I put a hyperlink to the title of Berger and Trexler's book about choosing Web 2.0 tools. The link goes to a wiki that has the book listed among other resources. If we were linked together with Diigo you might have seen that I highlighted the information about the book and added a sticky note.


Diigo Has an Educator's Account

My brain really began to hurt when I started to read about Diigo in Will Richardson's book Blogs, Wikis, and Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Using social bookmarking in a classroom enivronment had remained a mystery to me. I couldn't figure out the logistics. I must say Richardson's description of using Diigo in the classroom made me want to run for the hills. It seemed too difficult.

I discovered that that Diigo has changed since Richardson's book came out in 2010. I am surprised that Berger and Trexler do not highlight this option in any clear fashion either since their book came out in 2012. There is an educator version of Diigo that you can sign up for once you have created a basic account. There is teacher console in the educator version that allows you to set up your own class of users.  Students don't even need email accounts! That is pretty exciting if you are teaching in an elementary school. The teacher console will automatically generate user IDs and passwords when you type in student names. I can't wait to try it. I am a little concerned about what roadblocks I will encounter in a network setting with locked down profiles.

Diigo Tagroll

Seeing your tags in cloud form is pretty powerful. I can tell just by looking at the tagroll what tags I need to fix or get rid of. I can think of other tags I now want to use. You can have them show up on websites and on your blog. I put the tagroll below since I couldn't get it into my sidebar. Once again I am finding Blogger a pretty clunky application when it comes to adding widgets/gadgets and other such items.  I needed to paste the java script into the HTML of my blog. It was even missing some HTML which fortunately I have some rudimentary knowledge of so I could add the missing piece.

 

Video Sharing and YouTube For Schools

Since my first post about video sharing I have learned a few more things about YouTube. It has a school component. This is a bit different than YouTube EDU. You can learn more about YouTube school by going to this link or for a just a snapshop view the video below.



As you can see from the clip above the comments feature and the links to related videos have been disabled in YouTube school. Your school can have an account that can restrict and tailor the kinds of YouTube clips that are available from this version of YouTube. If my understanding is correct you are dealing with a preselected subsection of YouTube. If you see something on regular YouTube does not mean that you will be able to make it available to students through YouTube School. I have no idea if you can load your own custom material to YouTube school or how content is vetted.  Sometimes what you don't see is just as important as what you can see. Having YouTube School decide what is educational content has the same ramifications as using Google exclusively as your own search engine. It controls and directs you to content. Some of that control is convenient and some of that control is a business model for linking you with advertisers.

YouTube School is a safer way to have at least some YouTube content available in schools that have been blocking YouTube altogether.  Your school can have an administrator account that sets up YouTube School and then allows for the approval and creation of teacher accounts. You are going to need some help from your school network administrator or more likely district level technology staff to get this all this working properly in your school.

Since I have not set up a YouTube School account myself I am not sure what the status of advertising is. As you can see from the sample clip below, YouTube Education still has all the advertisements that regular YouTube has.  You never know what the ad is going to be and even though you can skip it after a few seconds the beginning of the ad can be distracting enough to the class. If anyone knows about advertising and YouTube School I would love to hear about it.




While creating this blog post I also noticed a few features that YouTube has for embedding videos. You have a lot of control over the size the video will take. I had not noticed this option from the other video sharing sites I looked at. I find it particularly useful for my blog since the text column is fairly narrow and it is easy to have your video extend past the text margins which your blog look unprofessional. I did a partial screen capture with Jing so you can see the embedding options I had for the video clip above.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Video Sharing

My latest assignment has been to learn about video sharing and how to use video sharing sites.  I have had some experience with uploading to YouTube and using YouTube in the classroom.  I often search the web for a video clip to launch a lesson or a unit or to illustrate a concept.  While pursuing this assignment I wasn't sure what I would focus on for my blog post.  I have decided to do a partial review of a few video sharing sites from an educator's perspective.
There are a plethora of video sharing sites out there.  A Wikipedia article on video sharing compares over 20 sites.  I checked into what were the top services. You can check out TopTenReviews for the best video sharing sites for 2012. This is a useful article in that it outlines what features you might want to look for in a sharing site. The "audience features" for finding videos combined with the kind and amount of content on the video sharing service are key criteria for making a choice that meets your needs.
 
Of course I am not just checking out video sharing sites in general. I want to look at sites that will serve my needs as an educator and the needs of my students.  I am looking for video sharing sites that are full of easy to locate educational content (organization is key).  I am also looking for a site which is easy to upload to and link to. I also want a service that is safe to use in the classroom.
 

YouTube

YouTube is the top videosharing service in terms of amount of content and volume of users. It has a huge number of features for locating, uploading, storing and sharing content.  It is the volume of content and the lack of moderators and consistent good quality tagging that can make it very time consuming to find just the right video on. There is also the whole problem of advertising and inappropriate content.  I talk about that under TeacherTube. As a teacher I will always be drawn to YouTube because if I can't find what I want there I am not likely to find it elsewhere, the only is it just could take a lifetime to find.

YouTube is also very convenient to use just because Google accounts link directly to YouTube. Inside of Blogger I can make quick links to YouTube videos. A great number of camera and video devices also upload directly to Youtube without needing to use a computer as an intermediate step for uploading content.

TeacherTube

In my investigation of educational video sharing sites I started with TeacherTube. I decided to sign up for a free account. I was a bit surprised by some of the information required to get an account such as my birthdate and gender.  It is taking quite a while for my account to be confirmed. From what I have been reading there is a lot of waiting with TeacherTube. If you want to upload a video and access it a few minutes later you will likely be frustrated. 
Before I signed up I should have got into the fine print of the terms of use agreement. This terms of use agreement talks about how any content I upload will be used.  I found a blog post that talks about TeacherTube content ending up on YouTube.
 
I guess the first thing that strikes me about TeacherTube is how commercial it is. Videos often start with an advertisement. It really doesn't distinguish itself from YouTube in this regard.  I think as educators we need to be very careful about how much advertising and corporate sponsorship we expose students to. If you have older students, say grade four or above, you can discuss advertising at the beginning of the year before allowing students to access to these sites.  The MediaSmarts site and CommonSenseMedia sites are good places to get lessons.

I think one of the powerful features of TeacherTube is the potential to search it by American Common Core Standards. It is unfortunate that it is just US Standards that can be used but even this criteria can get you connected very quickly with exactly what you need. I think searching user created tags has limitions especially when you are searching for specific content to teach in upper level sciences or mathematics.  I have included a fairly boring but yet informing video about how curriculum alignments are added to uploaded resources in TeacherTube.




SchoolTube

I really like the interface of SchoolTube. It is so  much calmer and it is commercial free.  It does have a lot less content. I did a search on the term "Inuit" on both on TeacherTube and SchoolTube. SchoolTube only had half a dozen and the most useful was the video below. Meanwhile TeacherTube had nearly twenty-most of which would have been appropriate to use in the classroom but I would have to contend with the ads.




I would definitely use SchoolTube as the repository for any educational videos I created for my school. It is fast and easy and I don't add commercial clutter to my content. I like the fact that all my videos can be put on single school page. When looking for educational content I will need to include TeacherTube and YouTube just because of the greater volume of content available.

Screencast

If you are a Jing user you might want to consider using Screencast for storing and sharing all your videos. I think it is the best web based storage service in terms of it organizational features and giving you complete control of all your material. You can create folders for your videos and easily attribute one of four levels of privacy to your videos which you can assign to individual videos or to whole folders. The only down side is that the free account limits you to two gigabytes of storage. I have included the introductory video below. You don't need to watch all of it to get an idea of how user friendly it is.



 Screencast is not a site on which you can search for content. In this regard it is quite different than the other services reviewed in this post.

Archive.org

Through my readings I also became aware of Archive.org.  I believe this repoistory for print, video and audio sharing is something everyone should consider. I would consider it the public broadcasting version of online storage and resource sharing.  I uploaded a podcast to this site and it automatically converted it to a number of media types to make it easily accessible to all users. My critique of this resource is that the site is slow to load and the speed of uploading and retrieving of resources takes a little more patience than other resources. In fact while writing this blog the archive went offline for a while.

Archive is not only a place to store and share video but is a repository a vast amount of historical content.  It relies on tagging to make resources searchable. Getting an account is easy and it was also the fastest of all the above video sharing services. There is no limit on storage, but once you have uploaded the material it is there for forever.

Conclusion

There are many video sharing resources out there. Educators have a variety of choices for the storage and sharing of their and their student's video content. I believe SchoolTube would be one of the best choices for uploading.  In terms of what video sharing sites provide the best content and easiest access is more difficult to ascertain.  From a student use perspective, TeacherTube is the absolute safest but it lacks in content volume.  TeacherTube is more likely to get an educator connected with a classroom appropriate video in the shortest amount of time.  You might not end up with as entertaining a video if you were to search YouTube but you would more likely have save some precious time for other activities. However you will need time to bypass the opening ad and be wary as to what kind of ads appear alongside the video clips.

As an elementary teacher I just avoid YouTube searches at school. If I want to mine the content of YouTube I make this a home project as I am never sure what I will get and how much time I might have to spend (a lot of it can be fun but it is time I can't get back just the same).

I have on last resource to leave you with. It is a great wiki I stumbled across about online video and video sharing tools. This wiki (Webtools4u2use) is truly a one stop shop for most of the information you will ever need as an educator about video sharing.

In a future post that I have on podcasting and screencasting I also have a section of Flipcams.  I probably should have included it in this post but I had made mention of it on my podcast so I decided not to change it.
 

Posting Prematurely

Many of you may have seen my blog post about podcasting and video sharing in your RSS reader. I have pulled back the posts for now so I can put my blog posts in the order in which they are expected.  My next blog post will be about YouTube and TeacherTube.

Sorry about the confusion. Some of you will end up seeing my blog postings come up twice in your reader as a result. Again my apologies.

Flip Cam: May it rest in peace



Cisco Closes its Flip Cam Division

 
I just finished posting a podcasting and video sharing blog. Part of it talked about Flip Cams.  I just discovered that the Flip Cam is no longer being produced.  Read about what caused the demise of the Flip Cam.