Welcome to pab's potpourri!

This is an experimental, informal blog for learning about blogging, blog development, and blog-related professional development activities.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

A word for today, and beyond!

Sheryl brought this word to my attention, "lagniappe" (Diigo: delicious4educators, Front Page, comment 11, 2008.12.09). It means a little something extra and, as she put it, "more ephemeral."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Visual Dictionary: Blog this - Blog tools

If you click on a "Blog this" button appearing on a Visual Dictionary Online page, you can get HTML code to represent dictionary illustrations and terminology on blogs and websites, with permission, for non-commercial purposes. Here is an example:

types of eclipses - Visual Dictionary Online

For detailed terms of use, see the Blog Tools page.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Birth and evolution of the Internet

For some reason, in 2005, I set October 29 in iCal as an annually repeating event commemorating the birth of the Internet. Perhaps that was because I had been reading up on it at the time. Below are some updated notes that I'd made about references collected, and left in the calendar entry, which I opened today because it reminded me of a website review that I'd done recently: NSF and the Birth of the Internet (2008.09.09).

In a report on the evolution of the internet, Rainie and Horrigan (2005) describe Internet use during the preceding decade, and explain "[h]ow the internet has woven itself into American life." They also provide a suite of "Other Internet Evolution References."

Elsewhere, in what may be a case in point, Lutus used to argue that Internet users' profiles, privileges, and preferences had changed, and included preferences for "Internet free zones" dedicated to "the free exchange of information, programs and content." For such sites Lutus had even prepared special logos indicating that site owners and developers forswore commercial advertising, selling, and spamming. Now a note heading the Internet Free Zone Home Page says the author keeps it as a reminder of previous idealism (Lutus, 1997).

References

Lutus, P. (1997). Internet Free Zone Home Page. Retrieved October 29, 2008, from http://vps.arachnoid.com/freezone/

Rainie, Lee; & Horrigan, John. (2005). Pew Internet and American Life Project: Internet Adoption. Retrieved October 29, 2008, from http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/148/report_display.asp

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Potpourri's first K visitors

A free NeoCounter Visitor Tracker tucked in the sidebar suggests that pab's potpourri has recently had its 1000th visitor. Though that's hardly indicative of a huge presence in any blogspheres, here's what visitor and country of origin numbers look like, over the past eight months:


The image above is an export from a Google Spreadsheet, based on a chart quickly generated in the spreadsheet; it includes no data from September.

Monday, October 06, 2008

SearchCrystal

This is an experimental post in which I'm embedding a searchCrystal widget. Thanks to MaryH for pointing it out, and providing a concrete example of its use.

I discovered this interesting visualization tool on the IES Book and Literature Circle Blog, in The Little Prince Literature Circles Week Two post (2008.05.28), through a Learning with Computers network connection in a Shelfari Group: Book, Short Stories Suggestions for the Classrooms and Activities (2008.09.04).

According to the page where I got the widget embedding code for this post (seachCrystal: Widgets), "The searchCrystal Widget visualizes the overlap between the result sets of five major search engines," for example, images on Ask, Flickr, Google, MSN, and Yahoo! (searchCrystal: Home). In order to fit the current template for this blog, I reduced the size of the display (below) from a default 600 pixels square to 400 pixels.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Exhibit A in PictoBrowser and Flickr displays

This post displays a Flickr photo set (Exhibit A, public), embedded with a new-found slide show tool, in which I'm just beginning to fiddle with display parameters other than height and width to fit this blog's template.



Thanks to Alan Levine for pointing out Pictobrowser on the CogDogBlog (Slick Flickr Browser, 2008.08.13). It sure is easy to use.

For purposes of comparison, I'm including a Flickr generated slide show the same size below.



The most noticeable differences apart from border shades (colors) and the like are:

  1. Thumbnails and jump arrows for navigation appear constantly in PictoBrowser display, while only briefly after starting the show (">") or on mouse-over in Flickr;
  2. Slides advance only manually in PictoBrowser, but automatically or manually in Flickr;
  3. Titles get displayed in overlays at the foot of the graphics in PictoBrowser, but only in full-screen view with "Info On" in Flickr (or on the Flickr site);
  4. Notes - Descriptions from Flickr - appear in PictoBrowser on mouse-over ("Notes"), but only in full-screen view with "Info On" in Flickr (or on the Flickr site); and
  5. As Alan suggests, PictoBrowsers "spawn" - you can generate another PictoBrowser slide show on the spot, by clicking on the link at the lower right-hand corner of the display frame, while you must got to the Flickr site to accomplish the same feat.

Wesch introducing YouTube at the U.S. LoC

Billed as "an excellent backgrounder to social media, user-generated content, and online communities through the lens of anthropology" by Alec Couros (2008.08.03), this YouTube video resonates in a similar post by D'Arcy Norman (2008.08.06). The video represents a June 23, 2008, appearance of Professor Michael Wesch at a U.S. Library of Congress (LoC) podium to display and describe his and his students' findings from ethnological investigations into YouTube as participant observers (Wesch, 2008)

Wesch describes media such as YouTube as neither content, nor tools of communication, but rather as a landscape that mediates human relationships. He suggests that changes in "the mediascape" correspond to changes in human relations (approx. 12 of 55 minutes in), reflecting manifestations of participatory culture and networked individualism. Eschewing Powerpoint, he and his students remix dozens of independent video productions to portray a mediated state under tension between personal expression and social aspiration:

  • individualism and community,
  • independence and relationships, and
  • aggrandizement and authenticity.


"More info" in the YouTube sidebar provides a timeline for the video itself (Added: July 26, 2008). However, you've got to see the presentation to believe it!

Reference


Wesch, Michael (Dir.). (2008). An anthropological introduction to YouTube. Retrieved September 9, 2008, from http://youtube.com/watch?v=TPAO-lZ4_hU

Friday, September 05, 2008

Social media: Is there anything but?

August 7, 2008, Chris Brogan listed ebooks that he'd found available for free, and thought looked worth reading to learn about social media. I've made five quick picks from his list of twenty; my fifth pick (his 19th) is actually a journal article:

  1. The Zen of Blogging, by Hunter Nutall (2008);
  2. A Primer in Social Media: Examining the Phenomenon, Its Relevance, Promise and Risks, by Eric Karjaluoto (2008);
  3. Effective Internet Presence, by Ted Demopoulos (2008);
  4. Introduction to Good Usability, by peterpixel (2008); and
  5. How blogs and social media are changing public relations and the way it is practiced, by Wright and Hinson (2008).
I've made one more tentative selection from Chris' updates:
IBlogged with the Flock Browser

[Notes: What first caught my eye was Siemens' musing about Brogan's list, "In the sense that all media ... require a producer and consumer, doesn't the notion of media have an inherent social trait?" (elearnspace, 2008.08.21). I'd been wondering the same thing with regard to a local course entitled Social Communication, because even though communication may manifest anti-social characteristics, it is fundamentally social.

Though I've only peeked under the covers of a couple of items on my short list, it seems that my choies differ in concentration on marketing from other items and articles Brogan later added to his list. As a subset of social activity, he may be focusing more on the commercial than the educational. (2008.09.08)]

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Tools, types of site, and such

Without delving into the nitty-gritty of many actual sites, I've been tracking and listing up most of the tools and types of sites that I've used over the past week, since deciding to do so while writing Tools I use (2008.08.27). I've taken cross-sections of what's up and running on machines at work or home just after lunchtime, in the middle of an academic recess.

The spreadsheet below represents my current findings. It also enables me to continue working in details without necessarily having to tweak or follow up on this post. Such details may include:

  • Future sampling periods, possibly:
    • during academic sessions, and
    • including computer laboratory applications;
  • Other (unexploited) possibilities in my tool chests; and
  • What's free or open source software.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Gift that Gives for 15.5 Years


Reading back through Mctoonish to 4 Generations (2007.01.23), I discovered a powerful short film by Robert Thompson documenting the acquisition, delivery, and aftermath of a surprising gift. Here it is (in various formats and sizes).

Image by geofana (2006): There is a Creative Commons license attached to this image.
AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tools I use

At the first of the year, Heather Ross [(McToonish, 2008.01.08)] posted a list of the tools that she uses least once a week. She had gleaned the idea of making a list for comparison with those she may be using next year from Will Richardson [(Weblogg-ed, 2008.01.06, who had taken a cue from Michael Arrington (TechCrunch, 2008.01.01)]. This sounds like an interesting project, especially since Heather's MacOSX@home - WindowsXP@work situation is a mirror image of mine.

Listening to a podcast about open source software, in which Heather took part (EdTech Posse Podcast 2.1, 2006.09.18), while reviewing a number of posts in which she mentions or recommends tools, sites, and extensions, I've decided to make a list of my own, and will try to sort it out in terms of platforms as well as open-sourced-ness.

Blogged with the Flock Browser


[Note: I've detailed the references to chronicle the stream of the meme Richardson mentioned, and decided to do my list during summer academic recess, when I'm most likely to have a full rack open (2008.08.28).]

Friday, July 25, 2008

Balance, on all fours

Photo by Andrey Sukhanov (2008), Creative Commons License BY-NC 2.0Balance, on all fours, seems to be what keeps tails from wagging dogs. For educational technologists, these days, the balance and interplay of humanity and technology seem to keep coming to the fore. The technological end of things has been twisting my noodle since I chewed over Achieving Sleep/Network Balance (Ceraso, ELT Blog, 2007.10.21) in pab's potpourri (2008.01.28).

Call it a rush, or addictive, vacuous pressure to adopt more and more diversified web tools, join more and more diversified professional and social networks, hold further discussions - with more people, explore existing topics more deeply, share and try new ideas, compare findings, pool and package resources, ..., and what do we get?

Loud whooshing sounds as our lives evacuate online, or something graphically represented as an exploding head, for which Alan Levine suggests he is "lacking an easy answer beyond shrugging it off, unplugging, letting stuff slide, or just floating along til the groove returns." Nonetheless, he keeps contemplating "how much 'power' we acquiesce to technology tools" (CogDogBlog, Exploding Heads, 2008.07.22).

Without ever having tried twittering, I'm inclined to agree that doing it needn't make everyone who does micro-thinkers. Yet humans are creatures of habits, and Levine wonders, "If some of the most sharp and clever people I know and respect find themselves overly immersed in something like twitter, what does that portend for the many more people who look to them for guides?"

If collection and recollection of both data and thoughts becomes largely and ubiquitously mechanical and piece-meal, it may lead to flattening of the web, and bode ill for discursive thought patterns, coherent conversations, cogent analyses, and deliberative syntheses. When push comes to pull, which way will online educators be leaning - towards the flat, quick, and transient, or the deep, rich, and stable?

It comes as some relief to hear of folks abandoning twitter accounts before I ever got one. However, I felt a twitch of dismay yesterday discovering So Many Nodes, Not Enough Reciprocity (Yet) (Marielle, Authorship 2.0, 2008.07.03), about which I growled on the LTD Project Blog (2008.07.24). Marielle reminds us "not to get lost in a plethora of solipsistic silos, speaking without listening, [and] reinventing rather than building upon each other’s ideas and deepening the collective dialogue." I wonder how long it may take twitter-free digital immigrants to groove deep enough into the web for the rest of the world to hear the music.


Photo by Andrey Sukhanov (2008)
Creative Commons License BY-NC 2.0

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The World is a Mosaic!

AppAppeals Map of theWorld 2.0, with hot-linked graphics in the original (World Mosaic Created from 1001 Web 2.0 Logos):

http://media.appappeal.com/map/appappeal-mosaic2.png
Source: http://media.appappeal.com/map/appappeal-mosaic2.png

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Diigo bookmarking for Learning with Computers

To increase visibility of a Learning with Computers group discussion going on in Diigo, just one of several venues in which members of that group interact, I'm going to cross-post here a bit that I wrote there:

I'd like to offer some reflections based on observations and suggestions that other participants have made already. To those I will add a few of my own ideas about collective bookmarking.

Joao Alves (among others) urges us to adopt the "tags Diigo suggests...[, and]... agree on a special tag for the group like 'LWC' that we would always add to every bookmark we tagged" (message 5).


Recommended tags are a start, but I'm always curious about who recommends them, and what for. I suppose they represent collective practices that may be more spontaneous or less focused than ours. LWC sounds quick, and easy to remember, yet may be quite obscure to other Diigo uses who don't already know that it stands for Learning with Computers.

After many hours on screen, I prefer tags with greater visual definition than all CAP's, so CamelCase is my favorite for MultiWordTags. I'm not sure, however, whether Diigo defeats capitalization. If not, I'd prefer something like LwC.


Joao goes on to suggest,"Organizing tags in topics or bundles like in del.icio.us would be helpful to find the most relevant site about the subject we are interested in."
Though bundles in del.icio.us are quite powerful in that they enable multi-purpose uses of individual tags, as well as consolidation of similar ones, I have a distinct impression that bundling may work better with single word tags.

Having done most of my bookmarking in del.icio.us, up to now, I've hardly ever felt a need to double or triple up on words, since searching for intersections or conjunctions between tag sets in del.icio.us is a given. I'm looking forward to finding out whether Diigo offers such powerful search options.


Mary Hillis points out: "... [Y]ou could simply use quotation marks for "lesson plan". Maybe this is another advantage of using Diigo" (message 4), and Joao agrees: "... [Q]uotation marks are very useful to write tags that have 2 or more words. I have always appreciated this feature in Flickr" (message 5). The use of quotation marks to demarcate exact phases may be common to Ma.gnolia bookmarking as well.


Earlier on Susana expressed preference for using nouns as tags (message 3), a preference we share to some extent. I tended to use plural forms for countable nouns. I still do sometimes hoping that bookmarking tool search engines will recognize the word noun as a subset of the category nouns more readily, perhaps, than they recognize the word nouns as a derivative of the tag noun.

If such search parameters aren't available yet, they should be. Otherwise, generic web searches for exact quotations and partial character strings may more than suffice for finding content for which interpretation into special terminology is unnecessary.


I've also experimented with a greatest common denominator strategy that works, I imagine, rather like a bundling strategy for similar tags. Take, for instance, collaborat, a tag I tend to favor in de.licio.us to capture the essence of collaborate, collaboration, collaborative, and collaborators. Nevertheless[,] I realize that tags such as collaborat, like the tailor-made one Susana mentioned, edudiigolwc, call for awareness-raising, if not public definition and explanation, in order to be of use to wider and wider groups of bookmark browsers or connoisseurs.


Tag clouds added to blogs, for instance, or provided in group bookmarking tools themselves, for example: de.licio.us and Ma.gnolia, are means of raising awareness. Yet Diigo, as options for individual commentary, comments earmarked for groups, and discussions like this one illustrate, affords ample opportunities for explanation in situ to those wish to elaborate for the benefit of a community such as the Learning with Computers cohort. What a pleasure it is!


(How should we use the tagging system to better organize our group bookmarking, message 6, 2008.06.24 [JST])

Blogged with the Flock Browser


The Learning with Computers group venue @ Diigo is public. Please feel free to share comments here, or join us there.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Spring into Summer

At long last, I've got Spring Widgets working again. The exasperation was unbearable. It has taken almost a year to get to where I almost was last spring. That is, to:

  • Display more than one feed in one widget, if any at all, and
  • Get one logo to display at the head of more than one feed in the widget.
Work-arounds among Feedburner, SpringWidgets, Firefox, and Safari finally succeeded! Though I'm not sure I can replicate, or even remember the steps, an RSS Reader near the top of the sidebar now displays feeds from two Edublogs:
  1. The Language Learner Development Project Blog (my newest), and
  2. The Language Teacher Development Project Blog (oldest, second only to pab's potpourri).
Saving the logo separately for each feed in Feedburner seemed to do the trick for the display, but had to be done for both before getting the widget code for either blog from Spring Widgets. The bar divider between SpringWidget blog feeds worked in Safari, today. I should have tried that instead of Firefox months ago, when I first encounter scripting errors while trying to retrieve widget code through Firefox.

Yet just now, drafting this post in Safari, I was unable to use standard copy and paste keyboard commands. So I saved this post there, opened it again here in Firefox, et voilĂ !

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hot extension for Firefox: NoScripts

I took a quick look at ... [a] website ... , shortly after installing a hot extension for Firefox, and thought you might like to take a look at the overviews I got before and after training up NoScripts (by temporarily allowing Flash media). Please find attached two screenshots ([before and after,] below)....

NoScripts came so highly recommended by Rich Mogull (Should Mac users run antivirus software, TidBITs, Issue 920, March 24, 2008) that I even tried it out at home on Windows. Aside from the shock I got on first glimpse of your site index this morning, I am thoroughly pleased with how well NoScripts works, and how easy it seems to be to train.
(pab, personal correspondence, 2008.04.03)


Before:


After:

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Social capital: a definition to ponder

As a quick cross-link to, and reminder of, another discussion just starting on the Online Facilitation mailing list, here's a definition to ponder:

... social capital consists of connections within and between groups who tend to share core ideas and values. It is measured by the level of voluntary involvement in civic organizations in formal or informal networks of associates or friends when professional information, personal or emotional assistance is needed....

[of] Social Capital, onlinefacilitation, Message #10185

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

iChat: quick and satisfying collaborative editing

In TidBITS: Mac News for the Rest of Us, Matt Neuburg briefly reviews and recommends a Mac-based approach for collaborative editing that he tried out with Tonya Engst (using OS X 10.5.2):

Collaborative editing isn't new to TidBITS. We've made plenty of use of SubEthaEdit, and Tonya's mind was already in a collaborative space from playing recently with Google Docs and ZohoWriter. But iChat screen sharing adds voice contact, and you're not merely sharing a document, you're editing and reading the same document simultaneously in real time, so it's perfect for quick, lightweight brainstorming and cooperation. Not to mention the instant gratification of solving, in five minutes, with excellent communication, a problem that might have taken our heavyweight email correspondence system two days, with far clunkier communication. In short, it was efficient, satisfying, successful, fast, and fun. You should try it!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Notes on Feevy

Feevy is a free online service for collecting and recasting RSS feeds in sleek, pre-formatted widgets (three+ styles) that I learned about in the Blogging for Educators workshop (TESOL EVO, 2008). I've tried it out in the sidebar, and in a post on this blog, with both a feed from a separate blog, and a comment feed from this blog. [I've removed the experimental post, and replaced the experimental sidebar widget already.]

One upside of Feevy is, like in PageFlakes, you don't need to know where to find or how to construct an RSS feed for a blog or website. You can simply copy the URL of the site you want to add to your widget, and paste the URL into the Feevy site, which creates the widget code for you, either from URLs (one at a time) or from OPML input (in batches). The more sites you add to your Feevy collection, the more content is likely to bubble up through the widget itself. Another upside is you can put Feevy widget code almost anywhere on your blog or site, or in multiple locations.

Though I had already written, "...you can only have one Feevy widget...," [that was wrong;] there are ways you can trick up different displays by tagging the blogs you add or have added to your Feevy collection, and tweaking the appearance of the widget. For details, please check the FAQ (item 2.5, Can I tag the blogs in my feevy for... different feevies? 2008.03.04) [or compare the two widgets currently in the sidebar {upper and lower right, 2008.03.05}].

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Academic rigo(u)r

Just a juicy quote to link to an interesting discussion:

"...[A]cademic rigor means an intellectual commitment to study issues thoroughly with open-minded, vigorous and ethical inquiry. It means accepting the possibility that evidence will lead us to think differently than we do at present" (garyh, LearningTimes Discussions, General, Academic rigor, February 13, 2008).

Blogged with Flock

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Forgot to Enable Request for Follow-Ups

Forgotten to enable follow-up notification on a peer's blog in the Blogging for Educators workshop (My Blogging Projects), I may have. Nevertheless, I've captured my reflective response here:

You've committed to starting two blogs, in addition to this one, I suppose. More power to you!

The proficiency levels of your students may dictate whether you task them with blogging, individually. However, the linguistic and technological proficiency of incoming students may be a mystery.

If I may cut to the chase, whether you require technical word verification on student posts, or moderate comments; you suggest that you will encourage "students [who blog] to see their class blog as an E-portfolio."

Since I'm keen on portfolios, I wonder how you may guide your students to articulate portfolios on their blogs. I'm looking forward to sharing your vision.

Cheers, Paul
22 February 2008 19:12

Friday, February 22, 2008

VoiceThread from the B4E Workshop

Not much to say here except check out the blogging ideas represented in this VoiceThread from the Blogging for Educators workshop:




Had to use the small version, because the big one didn't fit the page. For a micro-review of the tool (VoiceThread), please see the LTD Project Wiki (AudioPodcastVideo, VoiceThread).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Quick Captures from Eduspaces

With free services, I gather it's better not to keep all of your eggs in one basket. Now that I've decided to opt out of forced migration from Eduspaces.net to EducatorsCentral.org (a projected TakingITGlobal service), and thanks to limited investment in Eduspaces over the past couple of years, it has been relatively easy to self-migrate those bits of content and resources that I had concentrated in Eduspaces to other free services, before my Eduspaces account gets deleted:

  1. Profile information (c. 2006):
    • Self-description,
    • Interests, and
    • Skills; and
  2. RSS feeds (5) to:

Proceeding in a small pieces loosely linked fashion, I have updated and relocated the RSS feeds described above. They are now in a temporary PageFlakes page (currently private),

The Eduspaces community links (above), also updated, will probably break down by the second week of March 2008, due to the service migration detailed in a previous post (Any Elgg users out there?, 2008.02.14). The same goes for the hot-linked keywords listed under interests and skills in the profile information that I've cut and pasted in below (Who am I...).

It may be possible to update those links once the actual migration from eduspaces.net to educatorcentral.org occurs, by replacing all of the domain names in the link URLs. However, I plan not to rebuild dozens more links - at least not anytime soon.

Who am I?

An educator and a learner, a parent and a child, a colleague and a friend.

Any Elgg users out there?

If you are contemplating transfer of your blog, communities, discussions, feeds, friends list..., and associated online material to the service provider taking over old Elgg accounts from eduspaces.net, you probably ought to have a long hard think on the part of the new service agreement about publicly accessible content:

... [W]ith respect to Content you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Service, you grant TakingITGlobal the following world-wide, royalty free and non-exclusive license, as applicable:
  • With respect to Content (including photos, graphics, audio or video) you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Service, the perpetual, irrevocable and fully sublicensable license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such Content (in whole or in part) and to incorporate such Content into other works in any format or medium now known or later developed.
TakingITGlobal,
Terms of Service and Privacy Policy,
7. Materials submitted or made available for inclusion on the service,
retrieved February 14, 2008 (bold emphases added)

I gather that you have until February 27, 2008, to state your preference for migration to the new service by filling out a form when you log in to eduspaces.net. After migration to the new service provider scheduled for the second week of March, if you go for it, the domain will become educatorcentral.org (Eduspaces, personal correspondence, February 12, 2008).

When you login to Eduspaces, you immediately get directed to a form requiring a decision. If you don't decide when you log in, you can carry out no activity in your eduspaces account. If you opt not to migrate; you will "get removed" at the time of the migration (misja, Eduspaces account migration, c. February 8, 2008), or have your "account deleted" (Eduspaces account migration [php form]).

Then links to your account and associated content may become obsolete (as, I suppose, may the links in this post). Thank goodness I haven't invested much in Eduspaces.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Washable Flash Drives: Don't Try...

Believe it or not!

Flash drives (aka USB or thumb drives) may be washable. Use cold water, biodegradable detergent, and then air dry - thoroughly!

The possibility of flash-drive wash-ability captured my attention after my spouse found, in laundered garments, a flash drive that I had used (and still use) to transfer files between computers on which I use diverse Mac and Windows operating systems. This happened twice, before I cottoned on to the possibility of wash-ability.

However, I've put another thumb-drive though the wash more recently (check your pockets). Wash-ability seems not to be limited to particular devices. Although I'd like to rave about both kinds of drives that have survived washing, I don't have both in front of me now. So I'd just like to say:

Dont't try this at home, folks; I'm a flash-device-washing professional!

Friday, February 08, 2008

ELT notes: On Gadgets and Widgets (Ceraso)

In ELT notes: On Gadgets and Widgets, Claudia C. makes a host of fine points about audiences, purposes, and the choices that we make to suit both - as well as ourselves - as bloggers, community members, and educators. I am grateful to the organizers of the Blogging for Educators workshop for pointing out Claudia's post again this year (Blogging4Educators Pageflakes, Week 4, Extra Reading [February 2008]).

In conclusion, Claudia suggests that "adding widgets [to blogs] for the sake of practice is creating a noise in communication with students, audience and community." She goes on, "Widgets are meant to be simple. Learn about them, know what there is available[,] and trust yourself that you will manage to install them pretty fast when you or the purpose of your blog post needs them" (emphasis added, pab).

Claudia is careful, verging on fastidious in her choices of widgets for her teaching blog (The FCE Blog), and meticulous about the layout (no sidebars) and presentation of other gadgets (all at the end of posts) on her professional development blog (ELT Notes). I think she is modeling as much as telling us what helps learners and other readers get right to the heart of her ideas (February 15, 2007).

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Vox Privacy Zones & Blended Learning


This illustration was originally for a private group on Vox that colleagues and I use to conduct and collect discussions related to our teaching, where I wrote "This graphic represents four out of five privacy levels that Vox affords. The fifth level, zero of four if you will, is public" (personal correspondence, October 14, 2007). As you might guess, we are all quite keen on the fine-grained privacy controls that Vox provides on every post. We are interested as educators in adopting and adapting or subverting those privacy controls for use in teaching situations.

I have a bit over a month to decide whether to take the leap to teaching with Vox in a new class starting in April. However, in face-to-face discussion last month (January 2008), a colleague who had introduced students to Vox last year suggested that the friends and neighbors display features, along with automated recent post and comment feeds for groups, could quickly outgrow both individual and group blog display spaces.

Only so many (three to five?) recent contributions will remain visible in automated Vox feeds. So, while perhaps suitable for groups of up to a dozen members, for classes any larger than that, aggregating everyone's individual contributions in a single group might not work so well. Especially in the space of class meetings (blended face-to-face & online learning), fresh comments and posts from group members would quickly disappear from view.

Do any of you have experience using Vox blogs in blended learning environments, or any thoughts on trade-offs between community building and learner privacy? If so, I'd love to hear them.

Monday, February 04, 2008

What gives for RSS?

Thanks to continuing stimuli from the Blogging for Educators workshop, it has dawned on me (or is about to) that RSS feeds will soon replace most, if not all, cross-links as conjunctive interfaces among: blogs, webpages, and wikis (and whatever else is out there that serves up RSS feeds). The transition from links to feeds may delineate moves from Web 1.x to Web 2.n.

As long as display space is available on your home page, for instance in Flock (a browser [thanks to Mary H. for turning me on to Flock a year or so ago]), Google or Yahoo! readers, PageFlakes, or a host of other RSS feed aggregators; links will serve only a subordinate function: Click and see, instead of see and click.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Recent Comment Feed on Your Blog

I've just added a "Recent Comments" RSS feed near the top of the sidebar on this blog. Since students can do it with little face-to-face coaching, and advice from their peers, I hope you all can, too. Here is a recipe for a feed to add to your blogger sidebar (via the Layout interface):

[YourBlogURL]/feeds/comments/default/?alt=atom
All you need to do to add a recent comments feed to your sidebar is:
  1. Replace "[YourBlogURL]" in the recipe above with your complete blog URL, starting with the "http://..." part;
  2. Open your Blogger Dashboard;
  3. Click on the "Manage: ... Layout" link in your Dashboard;
  4. Click on "Add a Page Element" link in the sidebar preview;
  5. Click on the "Add To Blog" button for the Feed tool;
  6. Paste in your comment feed URL; then
  7. Click "Continue" to fine-tune the feed settings!
Note: I added the "?alt=rss" bit to the end of the default feed [in the initial recipe, instead of ... =atom], because the add a feed tool in the Blogger layout preview [initially] didn't recognize the default [atom] feed address.

(Writing Studio Blog, Comment Feed Recipe...,
October 24, 2oo7)
It works with "atom" now, and seems to refresh quicker than with RSS specifications.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

"Lessons from Geese" (jamsoun, 2006)

Running the risk of making this blog media heavier than it already is, I'm going to add an inspiring video entitled Lessons from Geese that Vicki pointed out in the current Electronic Village Online workshop, Blogging for Educators (message 419, 2008.01.21)

(Dailymotion,
c. 2006)


Whether the lessons presented in that video are examples of collaboration or cooperation, they definitely are inspiring for groups of people working together. I can hardly wait to watch it again.

Monday, January 28, 2008

ELT notes: Achieving Sleep/Network Balance

Claudia has gone and done it (again). She really touched a nerve. In a post the other night, I had suggested that "commenting is the heart of blogging" (Edubloggers Learning Space, Blogging in Their Own Words, January 25, 2008). However, in ELT Notes, I find today, Claudia referred to much, much more in Achieving Sleep/Network Balance:

The blogger's time management is instrumental when we want to talk other teachers into the conversation. The first perception people have about publishing your thoughts is the amount of time it all must take. So true. I cannot say my blogging (by which I mean, reading, updating, tagging, commenting, analysing and synthesizing in posts) is an activity that can be done in, say, one hour a day. And there is family and health to take care of. And jobs. And why not a totally unrelated hobby (like dancing tango) that can make us feel good about being playful.
(ELT notes, October 21, 2007)

The notion of striving to achieve a sleep/network balance is fascinating, especially after an intensive week on the job (the week before finals) augmented either by staying up all night endeavoring with diminishing success to network effectively in multiple venues, through multiple media, across multiple time-zones; or by spending virtually equally restless nights dream-planning communications that are difficult to recall the next morning.

The weekend dawns and what Claudia calls posers remain: Turn off the computer and go do yoga, or put on eye-shades and hit the cold futon for a few hours before going back to networking? Excessive blogging: formative, playful, or serious; in the long run, just isn't sustainable or healthy. If you've read this far, it's time for you to take a break.

Friday, January 25, 2008

New Label Subsumes B4B

Yo! I've up and changed the labels that I use on this experimental blog. This post marks a turning point in the labels (or tags) that I use:

Blogging Cmap (JPG image)

This post represents a Cmap of my current (and projected) blogging activities, exported as a JPG image (no active links), to illustrate - roughly - where, how, why, and for whom I blog:

(blogging080125gg.jpg)

If you click on the image (above), you can get a closer look. You may need to pan and scroll around to view the entire image.

I've got an IT Contest to attend in a few minutes, and exams to prepare afterwards. Then, when I get back to the drawing board, I intend to:
  1. Add links to the blog header elements in the Cmap;
  2. Simplify and enlarge the whole scheme;
  3. Strive to post an interactive version.
Then maybe I'll have fresh goes with other mind-mapping tools that I've tried out already, to warm up for new courses next year (starting in April).

Local time is:

(JST)