Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tech Adademies

Today we are learning about Web 2.0, specifically Google Tools.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Thing 33: Travel 2.0

Now this one is giving me the itch to get out of Dassel for awhile!

I like the idea of getting feedback from other travelers. This seems more credible than from the booking companies. Of couse, one needs to wade through the cranky people to see real insight. Some people are just always negative no matter where they go, but these bits of feedback can show a "trend" of feelings toward a destination. We used this when we went to Florida over spring break and found a GREAT pleace at a GREAT price. It was actually a nice timeshare resort that was not full to capacity so they were selling the empty space on Travelocity at a discount rate. It was a great deal!

WindowSeat and TripAdvisor looked good. I especially liked the TripAdvisor in that it gives a lot of good advice for first time or repeat travelers. I was checking out the first time Cruiser visitors section, and it looked great. After reading that, I'd feel more confident booking a cruise, and that's important during these tighter economic times when we must make every dollar count.

I did notice that the top two mashups were Twitter related. Maybe there are more decent applications than I gave Twitter credit for earlier. I'll try to keep an open mind on that one.

One that was not listed is WikiTravel. That's sort of a travel version of wikipedia. It's not too bad.

I think the most logical implementation for the media center is in the area of social studies. I could see some lessons that incorporate these tools. I'll definitely link some as reference tools.

Well, that's Thing #10 for me on the More Things on a Stick program. I plan to do more later since I'm teaching three Web 2.0 Tech Academy courses in August for our teachers, but I won't have time to officially complete more than that before the program ends on June 20th. I did want to at least meet the first threshold of achievement on this session, however.

Thanks again to Patricia Post and all those who have worked to make this program such a success. They have been GREAT and have allowed me to better stay up to date on the latest in the ever expanding world of web 2.0!

Thing 32: Google Maps and Mashups

I like this one. I like the interactivity of it. You can check out a map of downtown Dassel I created by clicking this link. I wish you could upload images instead of linking to them. The chance for link rot on these is pretty high, but I can understand space issues at Google if they start letting everyone upload images. Maybe they could automatically compress the images to allow for it in a smaller server. This would make the tool more attractive. I could see students using this in Geography to show us around different areas around the world. It would be a more interactive way to talk about all things geography. It could also work in a history project. For instance, you could have a student map out Paul Revere's famous ride or the path of the underground railroad.

One mashup I could see going over really well at my house is – Find a public bathroom anywhere in the country. That could be invaluable on a road trip!

I could see this one being useful for current events: Gaza Conflict YouTube Videos Map – This mashup shows the latest YouTube() videos about the Gaza conflict attached to their locations along the Gaza Strip and elsewhere.

This one of Obama's life is really cool. It makes the history more interactive and puts a place on the story.

There is some real potential with some of these applications.

Thing 31: More Twitter

Oops. The White House Twitter link does not work. That one looked interesting too!

I have to admit, I'm not a Twitter addict. It was interesting to setup an account and see how it works, but I feel like my life is too busy for this--especially since it often has less than important information in the tweets. Adding to my lack of enthusiasm for this tool is that Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows is addicted to posting. I think that is all he does. It was cool when he posted photos from his cell phone of shows he was at. That was sort of interesting.

I did put my Twitter badge on the site. I could see that as a way of recruiting more followers. Followers. This seems a little like a vanity pursuit for some people. I think the Counting Crows guy is one of them, although, in his defense, his profession is all about having followers. I have captive followers already at school . . . students. I suppose by getting them to follow a media account, I could get them more involved, but I think there are other tools I'd prefer to use.

I did add my name to the directory, but I'm not sure how long I'll keep this Twitter account. We'll see. Maybe I'll change my mind. The alerts would be helpful if I find some critical accounts that I need to stay up on.

OK. I'm at stage 2--presence. As I mentioned, maybe that will change. At least I know what it is and how others use it. Most teachers at school don't even know what it is. For that matter, students don't know what it is. I don't find that students tweet. They Facebook.

Twitter is . . . another web 2.0 tool that could quickly become a diversion, a distraction or an addiction. For some people, I think it is a pool of self-absorption. It does have potential as a tool for distributing bits of news or updates. I don't see enough people using it that way, but that's what I'd want to do as a user. For me, the jury is still out, but I will continue to monitor it as it develops. For now, it's still a crying baby.

Thing 30: More RSS and

There are some tools here I just won't need, but a few look useful. I like the tracking feed to send UPS or FedEx updates to a feed reader. This would be great with my eBay orders or even my orders at school (although I usually don't need to track them that closely).

The calendar link did not work for me--forbidden.

I could see the .gov feeds be useful to my Social Studies teachers, especially in current events.

I was really excited about Feedmysearch, but every term I put in returned 0 results. I may have to try this again another day.

There are some nice Delicious features that I could use. I added the badge to my Blog. That could be a nice way of posting school sites on my media center page. I also like the "Bookmark This" feature that is on many news sites. I'm putting a tag roll there as well. That may even be more useful although kids don't seem very familiar with this yet.

I really like that RSS feeds can be imported into the Blog tool. Again, I think each user needs to decide how to manage all this information. This gives another method. I like that you can import right from the reader. That's what I did--very fast.

I read my feeds every now and then, but I should probably do it more. I like it to keep up with professional reading. I still need to set up a delicious account for my library. That's one of my goals for this fall. I want to put all my research sites in there so kids can search them. I have so many available that they can get lost in the lists (they can't see the link for the list . . . like the forest for the trees). I love it though. What a great tool.

Thing 29: Google Tools

Google Alerts--Now this one I will use. I love it, especially for HS research projects. We have our advanced composition class research very recent topics. This would be a great way to keep up with the new writing on their topics. I think this one will be invaluable, and I plan to require every student to set one of these up next year!

Google News--This one is cool too. It's a little confusing to know where I'm logged in now that I have the alerts, the email and the news. I know I don't have to log into the news, but it gives me my login email at the top plus a series of tabs. It looks a lot like my igoogle page, but with a few tabs different. That's a little confusing. I hope they join all of these. For research, this could be very cool indeed, much like the alerts. I'm not sure if students will need both or now, but it's nice to have options. I like the timeline view too, but I'm not sure if students will use it too much. What I like most is that you can see when the most was written about the topic. On global warming, for instance, most was written in 2006.

Google Search Wiki--Interesting idea. The negative article was a little too negative. This is an optional feature. If the writer doesn't like it, he certainly doesn't need to use it. The other article gave some nice examples. I liked the idea of weather--put your local forcast information at the top, so to get a forecast, all you have to do is type in weather. That could be a nice time saver. I do agree with the naysayer, however, in believing that Google is not completely altruistic. I'm sure they are harvesting data to make them more money. I can't blame them. We do live in a capitalistic society, which means much of the motivation to improve is financial. If that motivates Google to improve its products, I guess that's oK with me. People just need to understand that. I'm not sure I'll be using this much, but I don't have a problem with it being there.

Google Web History--Cool or creepy? A little of both. I decided not to sign up for this one. Maybe it's because I am a digital immigrant (though I immigrated a long time ago, I did not grow up with this). Maybe it's because I've grown up more conservative about giving out my personal information. I do think it is a bit generational, but I don't think that means the old generation is wrong. I worry about my students who don't worry enough. They suffer from information prmomiscuity. I love that term. I heard it at the MEMO conference a a couple years ago. They leave their digital footprints all over the place and have little awareness of it. I try to teach them this at school, but I worry it does little good. They think online activity is as private as a conversation in their bedroom with a friend. While I'd like being able to review my web history, my need for privacy outweighs the need for convenience. Google says it gives you total control, but I question that. Nothing is every totally gone on the Internet. I think I'll pass on this one for now.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thing 28: Customized Home Pages

I went with iGoogle. Yeah, maybe that's boring, but I still like Google. They have a lot of great things to offer . . . and they should with their $500,000 per year R and D department. It's also the one that would connect most to kids. They often equate the Internet with Google. I try to teach them otherwise, but there are good reasons Google is so big. While others do parts of the search industry better, Google probably does the most well of any of them . . . and the page is very easy to set up.

I added a few neat tools to my page. I put a translater on there as well as a clock and weather update. I also have some of my favorite news feeds on the main page, and I check the headlines daily when I log on. I found a neat new gadget (iMusic) that lists local concerts although I was disappointed to see that I missed Big and Rich at Winstock today. They are great, and that is only 15 miles from my house. I see Three Doors Down is coming to Mystic Lake, however. I might need to check that one out.

For me, the biggest application in the media world is for putting RSS feeds and news feeds for media topics on my screen more frequently. If they are there, I'm more apt to read them. That's a good thing. I doubt I'd do anything with the students, however. There are more important things I need to teach them, and I have only a limited amount of time.