October 5

Holiday meanderings, Google+ and Digital Story telling

I have spent these holidays catching up with reading and getting my head around the new Google Plus… which I had an invite to a while ago, but had few people I knew using it… so it was left on the backburner as the end of term chaos consumed life.

So Google + wow… I have been using Twitter since the early days, and have loved how I can expand my professional learning network by following people whose tweets I find interesting and relevant. I have eLearning connections all over the world now as a result. The only thing is that most comments are limited to 140 characters – which can be good, a bit like a haiku, you really have to think about how you say what you want to say, to get the full meaning and context.

Facebook I have mainly kept as a friend space… not wanting to bore my non techy friends with tech stuff… and vice versa with my other pastimes. I did create a “school” facebook account this year, because with a range of other tech issues and unreliability I at least knew all of my students would be able to log in and see my reminder posts etc.

The benefits so far with what I have played with and seen on Google+ is all the great things about twitter…lots of sharing of ideas with people you allocate to circles… you can also share publicly with the world. You can share your thoughts or ideas with as many or few people as you like by simply selecting the relevant circles.

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Google+ is still in testing… but so far it’s looking very good for educators wanting to develop their skills and knowledge with educators worldwide.

One of the features is a “Hangout” where you can get together with others and have a face to face chat over the internet. At the moment I believe up to 9 people can be involve, but this can present a great range of sharing opportunities not only locally but globally.

I was luck enough to participate in viewing a hangout session about Digital storytelling.  There were educators from all over the US who shared with us how they have used Digital Storytelling to get students to develop not only their literacy, but a wide range of skills including digital citizenship.

VoiceThread allows you to collaborate via text voice or image as you and your class discusses images, either as a starting point, or analysis of an artwork. There are education versions, which allow students to post with more security http://ed.voicethread.com/

Youth Voices Youth Voices is a school-based social network that was started in 2003 by a group of National Writing Project teachers. They have found that there are many advantages to bringing students together in one site that lives beyond any particular class. It’s easier for individual students to read and write about their own passions, to connect with other students, comment on each others work, and create multimedia posts for each other.It’s also an opportunity for educators to develop their knowledge about curriculum and digital literacies.

Storybird is a lovely site which has artists who collaborate by providing artworks which can be used to stimulate and illustrate story creation.

Teachers Teaching Teachers check out here for the next talk

GoogleLabs is being phased out… but has an amazing set of resources… imagine 3D Google earth for the body…or the Google Art Project, giving you tours of the worlds greatest galleries…Get in quick!!

Sketchfu is an online drawing and sharing program… very easy to use, and some great artworks to stimulate ideas.

Handling the enormous amounts of information is something we have to try to help our students resolve… Where do you find reliable sources? How do you know what is reliable? Where do you store the information. The easiest way is using a social bookmarking platform such as Diigo, Delicious or Google, where you can save your bookmarks on the cloud, and always have access to them, using keywords and tags to search for them.

Another couple of apps I came across over the break have been Scoop.it and Storify both allow you to create a “feed” of information on a specific topic.

With Scoop.it you can have a tool which sits within your web browser, and allows you to scoop any relevant topics for your area of interest. You then add new links each day or week, or when ever. Others can follow your topic, and add further relevant “scoops” to your page. You can in turn follow others who are “curating” topics which interest you. The topics are wide and varied.

Storify uses a range of social media such as Twitter, facebook, Google+, YouTube etc to draw information together to form a “story” on a specific topic. This could be a unit of work you have created with your students, or it could be the information you want your students to explore.

Both of these would be great ways for students to collaborate and sift though information to create a really useful knowledgebank of information.

Whatever way you want to delve into the digital classroom of the 21st Century, don’t imagine it can just happen… it needs a lot of pre-planning and organising by the teacher to ensure students don’t get lost in the information, or the technology.

Well… some correction to get done…..

August 28

Creating your Digital Footprint

This week’s thoughts come from the concerns raised by a staff member when exploring the Redback Project (getting started using Web 2.0 tools), and starting to have to put information online.
“How much is safe?”
“Who will see what I post?”
“I don’t want to share so much of myself with the whole world”.

Try Googling your name – what do you come up with? I used to just get me, but now there is some person in Tennessee on Facebook with my name… hmmmmmm, however, if I Google “Starnott” I get mostly my own posted stuff – in fact the first 4 pages, and only one random one on page 5 – I did come across stuff I had forgotten doing, which was helpful.

Check out the sorts of information you may already be sharing Your Digital Footprint

How much is enough?, and will you be opening yourself up for identity theft? are very real issues which one should consider when venturing into the online world. The amount of information about you is called a digital footprint. How large you make this footprint is entirely up to you, as is the type of information you share and with whom you share it. The bottom line is no matter what level of information you share you need to be comfortable with it, never divulge more than that, and there are the obvious don’ts such as home address, phone number, credit card, license number etc. I will take you through a few points which should, hopefully, help you to make a positive digital footprint, while maintaining your security.

Creating a generic email.
When signing up for blogs, wikis, Nings and other Web 2.0 “stuff” you will be required to give a username and an email. Although it may at first appear easier to use the one email for everything, it is a good idea to keep your work or home ISP email separate and create a new web based email account for your web2.0 journey. I have always done this, just to provide some anonymity when I add my email address to various sites, as both my work and home email accounts include my fullname. You can easily create a web based email account using Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, or a host of others.
My preferred one is Google’s Gmail because of the power of the linked accounts at your fingertips.

Creating an online identity
This can be as much of you or as little of you as you care to share. I have, for most of my online eLearning sites, given myself the online name “starnott”. I know others who have used their whole name, some just a first name and others a made up name entirely. To start building your digital footprint try to use the same name, and this will become a presence you can find. A Twitter friend who uses his whole name also uses that to tag anything he posts online, so all of his information becomes linked to him, and if he has posted something online which he wants to access, and can’t remember where it was posted, a quick Google search will usually turn it up.
You can link your online name/identity with your web mail by using the same name for both.
When filling in your name on random sites I tend to play it by ear a bit, depending on the “quality/reliability” of the site I may use my real name – such as on iTunes, but for the most part I just put a letter, or a couple of letters. Date of birth is the same… you can go a year or so either way, in most cases it is just to check you are either over 13 – laws in the US state children under this age are not permitted to give certain information to web sites, or hold accounts – COPPA – or over 18
No one is going to know if you shed a couple of years, making you… 30 instead of 52…hehehe, again, just think about who may use the information, and why, as to how honest you want to be.
I wasn’t sure about Twitter when I first joined up, and chose a different name, however, I do share my blog updates and information through it, so many of my followers know “who” i am.

Passwords
Clearly these should be kept safe and private – I have a little black (well green) book where I keep all of my passwords and login details for different accounts, which is not kept anywhere near my computers. Handy for those random sites I know I have joined and can’t remember the password I may have used.

These are just some of the ways you can safely create and develop your digital footprint. If you have thoughts or other ideas, please feel free to add your comments.

We do need to think about safety, even as adults, and be aware of the information we post online to create a positive digital footprint, as well as staying safe

I hope this helps you on your journey.

October 11

The Power of linked accounts

I first began to understand the power of linked accounts when setting up my first blog. This is a personal blog, where I just rant about stuff… home stuff, kid stuff…. rant stuff, not linked to anything in particular, except me. A while after setting up my Blogger account, and intermittently using it (I am so bad at remembering passwords) Blogger changed to be linked in with Gmail… and I was given the option of moving my login details to be linked with my Gmail account – sweet… only had to remember one password for two places 🙂

Then along came iGoogle, a personalised homepage set up, with the ability to add funky widgets, calendars, etc. and the fun of setting up your own page.

With the google account I also had access to a tab called photos…. so I explored that, put Picasa onto my computers and had fun easily uploading and sharing images… my friends and family – near and far –  have seen my kids pics, the building of our new house, I have open galleries of my arty pics, as well as the private family ones… too easy.

I had been using the RSS feed built in to IE, but found I didn’t often use it, as I was often using Firefox… ahhh Google reader… I set up some of the feeds directly onto my iGoogle page, and others into my reader, so it didn’t matter if I was at home using Firefox, or at work using IE, on my laptop, or on the PC, or on one of the PCs at school, my RSS feeds were always with me.

I decided I had avoided YouTube long enough, and I should have a look around, and try it myself…. after all the kids were posting stuff on there…. so on to create a YouTube account… Yay… you can just set up your YouTube account with your Gmail log in… bliss.

Google docs – online collaboration of documents – at first I wondered why… but then I started playing with it… great resource to develop papers for conferences, or discussion papers where a team are working on the same document – saves on emailling back and forth.

I have two gmail accounts, one for personal me, and one for educator me…and I love it…

When I got my internet enabled phone I found I could post images directly to my blog…. a quick log in, and they were linked to my blogger account.

So… with one login I have email, personalised homepage, blog, photo sharing, video sharing, RSS reader, document sharing, calendar and much much more. Gotta love that.

For the Redback project I thought I should also check out Flickr… thinking I needed another “account” I found out I could create a Flickr account with my Yahoo email account – okay so I had to reopen it as I haven’t used my yahoo account for ages, but that worked really well too.  And today I have found another “site” which is linked to Yahoo, MyBlogLog I am sure there will be many more…..

So, sometimes it is very handy to have an email account, which is not directly related to work, which one you decide on is up to you, and which features you are wanting to add….

Do others have accounts which they find valuable?