Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Join Diigo - Social Bookmarking That's Great for Teachers

I recently joined diigo - - as a social bookmarking site that is an alternative to I became interested in diigo when I found out that they had an educator access to their site, that allows educators to create groups for their students to share bookmarks. I am always looking for ways to allow teachers and students to collaborate on their work. This looks like an outstanding way for online research and resources to be compiled and shared. I found out about the free teacher accounts at diigo from Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers.

I signed up for both my personal account and then the free upgrade for teachers. As I was going through this process, I learned that you may want to do this in a meaningful way. You may want to create an account for yourself, that you don't mind putting out to the public. You may want to create an account that is your teacher account, with a different username, that you will share with your students. You may want to keep your personal bookmarks private from your students and the teacher account will give the students access into that account. That is just something to think about. Users do have the ability to keep collected information private.

Once you have gone through the process of creating the teacher account, you will have access to a teacher console in diigo. That is where you will be able to create groups of students that will be able to share links and information. You will be able to create specific logins for students - using an e-mail address or just a name. This is quite nice for younger students that don't have e-mail accounts, yet. You can also import that information using a spreadsheet - if you have a large class.

I believe diigo will allow teachers and students to work electronically, see each others research, and analyze the sources, without having to print out large amounts of material. It will also aid in the citing of sources, as we teach students to document their research. Diigo will be an online tool that I try to work with and share a lot this fall, when I get back to school.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Technology at Baseball Game

My wife, daughter, and I went to a baseball game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis last Monday. We were sitting in right field when we noticed a bright green rectangle behind home plate. I asked my family if they knew why there would be a green rectangle on the wall behind home plate. Does anyone know? I do....

If you watch a baseball game on TV, you'll notice that there is an advertisement to the left of the catcher, in that same location. That advertisement changes to different company logos every inning . They are using green screen technology to super-impose the company logo onto the green screen. Pretty cool for television advertisement, especially since the only people that can't see it are the people in the stadium - and they are seeing other signs all over the ballpark.

Next time you go to a game - probably only Major League games, since that is where the advertising dollars and television exposure is highest - take note of what is on the wall behind the catcher. Amazing what a little green screen can create as far as revenue. No wonder kids love using green screen in videos, once they've been exposed to its potential.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Reach - by Jeff Utecht

I recently picked up the book Reach, by Jeff Utecht, while attending BLC10 in Boston. I proceeded to read it very quickly, finding it contained many quick resources for teachers. I am going to share it with my staff at school. I had the opportunity to hear Jeff while at BLC10 and found his information to be practical and helpful. This book is both.

In the book, he shares information about communities and networks and how to make these communications work for you. He starts with the RSS feed and shows how it works for gathering information from the sites to which you subscribe. He provides tutorial videos and other information that can be helpful.

He also adds material on how to contribute to your learning community. There is everything you will need to help you start and set up a blog, wiki, ning, or other place to share your knowledge and experience. Again, he provides resources and support in the book. Along with that, you'll find information to help you build your personal learning network. What you need to effectively use Twitter, Skype, Facebook, and others is described and shared.

Jeff's book is a great place to start if you are getting just beginning in the area of using technology to learn and share with students and teachers.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Entry Into the Blogosphere

After spending three days at the most motivating conference of my career - Building Learning Communities Conference 2010 - BLC10 - I have been moved to become a contributing member of the online world. I have been inspired by people that I have been following on twitter and on blogs. I got to learn from people like Dean Shareski (@shareski), David Jakes (@djakes), Brian Mull (@brianmullnl), Jeff Utecht (@jutecht), and many more. They spoke of the need to share what we do with others, even when you don't feel that your message will move mountains.

The conference was interesting and compelling. It exposed me to many brilliant people talking about learning, how people learn, and what tools can help that learning, especially in the technology arena. We had conversations around what tools people are using to learn and what tools we need to share with others in order to help them move forward. More entries regarding those topics will come as I get a chance to process the overwhelming amount of information and the wonderful stories that support that thinking. Topics include:

Digital Footprint
Digital Citizenship
Personal Learning Networks
Network Safety
Social Media
Google Tools

These are just some areas that I hope I'll be able to work with and develop ideas to share with my colleagues. I was able to obtain many resources - thank you all at BLC10 - so many that it will take weeks and months to organize and prioritize. I will take that on as my mission.

I was also pleased to hear some amazing keynote addresses -
Mitch Resnick - spoke about learning and creating and sharing in online communities. He addressed the audience about the online community and software Scratch - and the great things that students can make and share and collaborate and remix - using this program and online community.
Michael Wesch - spoke of learning and sharing of learning. His address focused on the students being the learners and striving to solve real problems. Students need to learning about communication, thoughtfulness, and empathy, and that the three of those things need to be intertwined.
Rahaf Harfoush - spoke about social networking and it's impact on our communities. She worked on President Obama's social media team for the 2008 election. She shared many stories about how the different social media sites were used to help inspire people to get involve in the campaign. How do we leverage that knowledge to get our students and teachers and communities involved in what is going on at school?
Adora Svitak - spoke about how students need to become more involved directly in what is going on in schools. Teachers aren't the only ones that have skills and knowledge to share. She is 12 years old and has an amazing insight into what can happen when students are empowered to lead in the schools. She recently spoke in Columbus at eTech Ohio.

As you can see, I was exposed to three days of unbelievable people and information. My hope is that you will find something useful from what I share and from the many people I will communicate with. Grow your own personal learning network and keep learning from the many bright people out in the profession.