Archive for the 'Internet' Category

My Technological Timeline #edcmooc

I’m still working on this and probably will have more comments on this subject, but as I was watching all the ‘utopian’ videos I thought about Arthur C. Clarke’s third law & wondered how advanced does technology have to be for it to appear to be magic to me. This started me thinking: how much has technology developed since I was born.

By the way I admit, I’m no graphic artist and I put this together  in less than 30 minutes using Google Docs. It’s my way of sketching because I can’t draw 🙂 Also, I’m not claiming that this timeline is historically precise or accurate, after all it’s based from my memory.

 

Click on the image to see an easier to read version

Screen shot 2013-02-06 at 7.29.08 AM

Okay… so now I understand what Twitter is all about

Image originally from the Morguefile. Click to view the original

Image originally from the Morguefile. Click to view the original

I’ll admit the idea of telling people what you were doing at any given moment did not appeal to the side of me that adores my privacy. Also, being involved in conversations with others that absobed so much chatter didn’t spark the curiosity of that extremely methodical part of me.

Yet the side of me that has come to appreciate “Stream of Consciousness” really gets it.

But after first joining Twitter I can see what people like about it.

A few tricks I learned quickly to reduce the noise factor on twitter:

  • The more followers/followees you have the faster the pace of the conversation. It’s good to search for conversations using “key words.” You can also save the chat
  • You can easily save tweets you like by clicking the “Star” or favorites option.
  • Just accept that you’re not going to get every piece of information being shared. Twitter is pretty ephemeral and it embodies that life of ephemerality characteristic of some aspects of “Internet life.”
  • Make comments even ones that appear to have no point every now and then.
  • If you’re sharing something cool include the link (be forewarned… if the link is too long you may not be able to share it. Hopefully, web developers out there whose pages require long urls are noting this. Or the twitter people might be able to develop a feature that allows you to associate links to text so you don’t go over the 140 character limit).
  • Addressing someone directly requires including their Twitter ID (ie. @nlkilkenny) in your tweet or post.
  • If you must, you can search through the archive of a saved search. Depending on the volume of a conversation you may be searching for sometime till you get to the beginning.

I’ve actually learned a lot this weekend on Twitter. Sorry to go off on a tangent, but I get this way when I learn a good deal of new and fascinating stuff.  I saved a search for Arduino technologies because I’ve very interested in learning how to make clothing and knitwear use electronic features using the Arduino Lilypad.

Arduino Lilypad
Arduino Lilypad

Can you imagine having a purse that’s hooked up to your cellphone so that it blinks a certain way when different people call? I’d also like to make some kind of garment (even just wristbands) for my brother that plays different sounds. He’s a musician that tries to bring traditional and non-traditional sounds and instruments together: OO-Ray.  I was searching through Make.com’s site and found some very fascinating applications with Arduino tech including this Fabric Synthesizer. What a wonderful way to showcase ingeniuity and creativity.

Art and textiles meet electronics and music

Art and textiles meet electronics and music

Wikis: it’s okay to make mistakes here

The Impact of Social Learning - Click to view the Article

The Impact of Social Learning - Click to view the Article "Minds on Fire"

More and more, I’ve come to see wikis (collaborative websites) as informal ‘playgrounds’ where people can share, learn and collaborate together. I’m not really referring to Wikipedia, because it’s seen as a semi-formal/formal resource. Now I don’t want to get into the veracity or the level of formality associated with Wikipedia, that’s not the main focus of my thoughts here.

I’m talking about wikis as an active place for a ‘learning community’ to share, build and collaborate to learn information. An example of this is a wiki set up by a classroom teacher of any subject where students (and the teacher) can build their store of knowledge on a subject together. Note, ‘grown ups’ in the workplace can use this in a similar fashion (see the last examples). Here are a bunch of sample scenarios:

1.) History/Social Studies Class – develops a section in their wiki on each of the topics they cover in class. Teams of students are responsible for updating the wiki with information on a particular subject. Class invites another history class from a different part of the country or world to contribute to some of their pages and volunteers to contribute to the other class’s wiki in return.

2.) College Physics Course – shares information they gather on particular phenomena. Smaller teams work together on the wiki to develop papers on particular projects. The wiki is used as a place to collaborate and develop a draft.

3.) Elementary School Class – learns about punctuation. The have a page for each of the different rules of punctuation. Each student contributes to the rule page by writing their own correct example of usage.

4.) Hi-school English Class – students work to write scenes of a play that parodies the work of a featured playwright or author. For, example they create a modernized version of Hamlet.

5.)Marketing team – uses wikis as an ongoing brainstorming area for throwing out random ideas to explore.

6.)Software Development Team – uses wiki to document issues and successes with code.

In these situations, the wiki is not serving as a definitive or formal resource for information. In my opinion, people should not throw hissy fits about making little mistakes like grammatical errors or broken links. People shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes, because these mistakes can always be corrected. The more knowledgable wiki-users should be able to model and teach their less-experienced co-users how to correct these mistakes. Users and participants in the wiki work with each other to share ideas and grow the content without the fear of ‘making irreversible mistakes.’ The content in the wiki is ‘organic’: always changing, evolving and growing.

I have to admit, I’ve very excited about this aspect of knowledge-sharing and the idea that content grows and changes, because I firmly believe that this is where innovation, growth. But in the sense of content development, I think of Wikis as being the rehearsal for the ‘play’ that is print or documented information. Again, I also see it as a playground for learning.

Resources/More Info:

What I learned in 2007

This is a little late, but I’ve been playing beginning of the year catch up. I believe that its important to do this kind of self-reflection at the end of every year.

I don’t miss working with Sharepoint -No, really, I don’t.

I lot of patience with change goes a long way – I have to constantly remind myself that change and getting people to adopt to change doesn’t happen overnight.

I need to get out more – working from home has made me sort of a hermit. There are some days when I feel a little more Boo Radleyish than others. The holidays was hard because other than my immediate family I didn’t really talk to other human beings.

I need to find more new friends or acquaintances – I started interacting more with social networking sites in our ‘profession’ on the web. I’v just started dabbling but I need to engage more. I find that being exposed to people who are more open to technological advances in learning actually re-inspires me and keeps me going when I feel down.

Things I want to do more this year:

  • Go to the actual library – I’ve been hearing that libraries are becoming pretty interesting places to hang out. Seems like many librarians are on the up and up when it comes to employing 2.0 technologies.
  • Start a podcast – not sure what it will be about yet…  I was thinking of doing a knitting through history/comedy podcast. I know that doesn’t sound fun to most people, but i’ve been thinking about tinkering around with podcasting more.
  • Volunteer more at my local public school – I need to get started back with volunteering for the SMART program. I’ve done it in the past and it’s great fun. Plus, the kids are wonderful to work with
  • Don’t spend as much time on the internet – Do you think I have a theme running here? Get out, meet people, don’t always have your eyes pasted on a screen.

Invasion of the Video Mashup

An internet video mashup is just a re-mix of of video and audio content which is shared on the web.

Future tense has a great brief podcast on the trends of video mashups (1/3/2008). Notably it features the idea that much of the re-mix of content from films and music may eligible for ‘fair use‘ law protection. This makes sense since re-mixing content to express a new or different interpretation doesn’t mean that people are using the content as it is for ones own gain. This is a potentially touchy topic because on one hand we want people to re-mix and re-interpret content because it facillitates change and progress; on the other hand, taking and using content from those who worked hard to create it doesn’t seem right if someone else profits from it. Though I doubt that anyone has made any money re-mixing Soprano episodes.

Though I wonder how many legal departments and copyright lawyers must have their wheels running on overdrive right now trying to figure out how to nip this movement in the bud. Is it too late to do that? Large numbers of teens have made re-mixing of content to their own interpretations a way of life. This is simply how they react to the content they see. I think it’s exciting… because you can interact with this content in ways that you could not in the past.*What does this mean for copyright law in the future?

2007 Statistics on Technology Users in the US

I’ve been looking for a better snapshot of what technology consumership look like. The Pew Institute released an interesting study which identified 10 different types of consumers of internet and technology. These types were determined by the possession, use and activity of technology assets (mobile devices, computers, cell phones, internet connection, etc.). At the top of the list “Omnivores” (8% of the surveyed) could be characterized by having a lot of gadgets and subscribing to many services. These individuals frequently participate on online social networking and expressing themselves via blogs, website authorship, etc. In contrast, the “Off the Network” people did not have cell phones or internet connectivity (15%)

These types were labeled as follows:

Elite Tech Users ( 31%)

  • Omnivores
  • Connectors
  • Lackluster Veterans
  • Productivity Enhancers

Middle of the Road Tech Users (20%)

  • Mobile Centrics
  • Connected But Hassled

Few Tech Assets (49%)

  • Inexperienced Experimenters
  • Light But Satisfied
  • Indifferents
  • Off the Network

More on technology and internet usage:

I’ve got X-mas in the wash… it’s soap, baby!

I hate the fuss over Christmas.  I like giving gifts, but I don’t like the drama or hassle that comes tied in guilt and knots when it comes to holiday giving.  My solution= find a place on the internet that I’ve visited this year either on the internet or in ‘real life.’ More, I have to have absolutely loved the products I found there. Funny, everywhere I go now, if I like a store or business I always ask stores if they have a website, and if I can purchase their products online. It’s a really good way for businesses to keep tourist dollars coming even after the tourists have gone home.

marinelife.jpgWhen we were in Madison, WI this summer we went to visit the Soap Opera. I fell in love with their homemade glycerin soaps (Primal Elements Handcut Soaps). I even brought home a Pirate Soap (decorated with “Skull and Bones”) for my husband… he refuses to use it because it’s so cool looking.  I don’t mind because it actually has the most lovely scent of vanilla and marshmallows. The soaps come in such beautiful and curious designs that it’s hard to resist. I was given a sample of the “Dragonfly” soap… and after I tried it I regretted not purchasing a slice. I actually love this glycerin soap in general because it’s super mild and the essential oil blends they use on the soaps aren’t super intrusive or garish.

Also, I enjoyed reading the story of one of the owners of the shop: “How I Got from Art Major to Business Owner.”  I think it’s a wonderful story of one person’s journey through life trying to balance work and business with what one loves to do… especially if that means making ‘things.’ I believe that the booming business of crafts and handmade products is no coincidence considering the fact that we live in a growing world of virtual concepts through technology.

dragonfly.jpg skull.jpgflowrshp.jpgchocmose.jpg

Oh, oh, oh….I also found the retailer of these soaps made to imitate natural gemstones.  At the Soap Opera, I purchased the Red Jasper soapstone for my mother as a gift. But it looks like you can get the soaps here at a discounted price. Well, my Christmas Shopping is done! And I didn’t even have to push through crowds at a mall.
blackopal.jpg jasper.jpg

Hate Index – based on internet searches

What ever happened to that old addage… if you’re going to say something bad – then don’t say anything at all. Obviously the first person who uttered this wasn’t around when the internet was in existence. This is one of the sad but unfortunate things about the internet, it gives people an ample amount of space for airing out their dislikes. Okay, I know I’m just as guilty of this as the next person on the web. Who hasn’t been at work on a bad day and typed in a phrase like “I hate work” into Google. I remember doing this when I was in a job I was having a difficult time with. There was a moment when I actually felt a little paranoid about typing this, as if someone would watch the meanderings of someone as insignificant as myself and then punish me for it, but I quickly shrugged that notion aside. Perhaps even discovering the voices of other people on the internet who felt the same way I did actually help reinforce my resolve to hammer on at work like a good corporate citizen… until I found a better job.

Today I ran across this curiousity, The Hate Index. I’m not sure how the actually qualify occurrences of what counts or how often the counts are tabulated. I question their methods of gathering data, but the whole concept is interesting if not somewhat disturbing. Do they do specific or exclusive searches by searching for the text “I+hate+hamburgers”? Also are they searching in different languages or just English?

According to this index:

  • 335,000 people hate to think
  • 111,000 hate reading (but obviously they still like posting their opinion about reading on the Internet)
  • More people (112,000) hate music than reading or math
  • More people hate America than reading, math, and spiders

Also, it’s terribly disturbing to see the intolerance of people portrayed in this list. Now, honestly, I don’t know that we should give this particular list a lot of credence (especially considering the number of ads all over it), but it is a bit of a frightening thought that through the technology of powerful searches you can basically take a litmus test of what everyone who is verbal on the net is thinking or feeling. It’s almost as if the net houses our collective opinions and thoughts. This body of feelings can become a ‘living’ entity as it grows and changes like a coral colony with the different people who add to it.
Hate Index: http://www.hateindex.com/index.jsp?number=100

Link Obsession: Overcoming Teachers’ Fears of Tech

Tech Learning Blog Rant: He makes a good point… Digital Native/Immigrant distinction may just give some teachers an excuse not the cross the bridge. If you read to the comments on this post a responder notes that some teachers fear pushing newer technologies because they fear loosing their jobs. Is this the case? Why so? Isn’t fear a kicker?

Training Teachers Who are Terrorized by Technology: This is a really helpful article about dealing with common questions or protests about using technology in the classroom. One of the questions was “how can I manage computers in the classroom?” The tech teacher notes that they actually train teachers to use applications along with the students. This way the teacher can feel comfortable about using the technology as their students use it.

Fear of Technology in Schools: Dave Chakrabarti chocks up parents (and teachers) fears of technology to the fact that parents fear the lack of control as children are more facile at using technology than they are. I don’t know about other families, but in our family, my father put our lack of fear of technology to his advantage and allowed us to set up any of the new tech gadgets we got like the VCR, the Remote Controls, etc. That way he didn’t have to read the manual and he could just have us explain how the gadgets worked. Maybe this is what parents should do with their children and new technologies… but then again that requires a great deal of trust. In Dave’s posting, dave notes that a teacher who set up a blog was blocked by the school because they though the blog’s presence on the web compromised the students’ safety. The teacher’s response was to shift her focus on to teaching safety on the internet. Smart Teacher; talk about making lemons into lemonade. That’s cool!

Technology: To Use or Infuse: This article discussed some to the common trends in tech integration into the schools and how these may have led us down wrong paths to true integration of technology for educational purposes. It’s true that computers provide us with greater opportunities to learn how to solve “open-ended” problems. Students can be presented a problem, brainstorm solutions then use the internet to gain knowledge and perhaps even contact experts to help them solve the problem.

As I read these articles I became acutely aware of my own tendencies to over-explain things when it comes to technology. Also, I think I’ve developed this automatic response to any audience – I assume that they’re going to resist the technology I propose. I feel like I’ve allowed this assumption to cloud my decision making and choices. I always opt for first teaching those who are fearful and afraid rather than also address the needs and desires of those who are already willing to learn.

Future-teach

Why we still need teachers despite the internet

As I was sitting and listening to lectures at the SALT conference I heard a comment that most of the younger generations don’t have the patience to sit through lectures when they can look up answers and information so quickly on the internet. First, let’s note that not all lectures or lecturers are as painful to sit through as listening to someone conjugate Latin verbs in all tenses. You can still get valuable information from a lecture; however, it’s nice to be able to learn via different media or methods. Second, I’m a little wary of the idea of just expecting students of any age or discipline be able to search for information via the net without little or no guidance. If you read any of the Edgar Rice Burroughs stories or comics from the Tarzan series, you’ll remember that there was this assumption that Tarzan learned how to read on his own by reading through the books without the help or guidance from a teacher. Can we assume that students can learn everything they need to know by just having the almost all the information placed in front of them via the internet? Of course, after many trial and error attempts they might be able to function or apply the information they absorbed correctly. Even with all the information and resources in front of you, you still need a teacher or instructor as a guide to help you determine what’s good information and what is not.

Even within the university setting, this type of learning and validation from an expert must occur. Pre-Net we had libraries. Students would often use the libraries to compile information in the form of papers or studies thus augmenting what they learned in class. Now this will probably date me, but I used the index card method of gathering information from my sources. The professor, instructor or teacher would verify if we got things ‘right’ by giving us a grade on the paper. Though, that’s not always the case if you have a professor who is incompetent or even one who dislikes you and gives you a bad grade as a result.

I still believe that teachers are absolutely necessary to perform this function of validator and guide. However, the traditional model of teacher lecturing and students verifying that they got the information via a paper needs to be augmented. Note, I did not say get rid of writing papers. We all need to learn to form our thoughts and apply critical thinking in writing. It helps integrate what we’ve learned as well as learn to articulate our thoughts in a structured format. I do think that the written paper assignment tends to be overused in learning situations because it’s easy for the instructor to assign, and not so bad to grade as long as you have a teacher’s assistant.

socrates.jpgIf educators of the future are to follow a model I’d say let’s follow tradition way back and return to Socratic Methods of teaching your role must evolve from the guy or lady who likes to talk a lot at the front of the classroom to the mentor who watches the students progress, prompts them with though-provoking questions that would help them learn to apply the information that they’re learning successfully. But this is hard work isn’t it? And in a normal classroom environment of any age level it’s logistically impossible to get to all students and personally monitor their activity and ask them these questions.

I believe the answer to this lies in harnessing collaborative learning with student peers. At SALT I attended an excellent talk where the professor/instructor actually had students work together to post their learnings (and subsequently discussions) on topics via a wiki. The result was that students were able to quickly share what they learned and provide examples via links (if the information was available via the net) to each other. Using this method of collaborative/peer learning is powerful, especially if you couple it with assignments of well though-out questions that get students to think about applying what they’ve learn as well as looking at it with a critical eye.

computer_group.jpg

Social and collaborative learning is the key, but the instructor need to trust the students and let them drive their learning for a change.


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