Monday, May 24, 2010

Delicious? Yes it is.

Simply put, social bookmarking is a way for people to share their internet links with others. Not so simply put, social bookmarking is a method for people to share, search, organize and manage not only their bookmarks, but the bookmarks of colleagues or members of their PLN.
Delicious is probably the most famous social bookmarking site and it is the one I will profile today. If you haven't heard of delicious, sign up for an account NOW!

On a basic level, Delicious is great for saving your own personal bookmarks. You can import bookmarks you've already saved on your computer to your delicious account easily.You can also add a handy delicious tool to your browser that will enable you to save websites to your delicious account with one click (I would highly recommend this). You have the option to keep your bookmarks private or public so that everyone can find the sites you feel are valuable.

One important thing to understand when bookmarking sites on delicious are tags. Tags are the most essential aspect of delicious as they will help you organize and search through your bookmarks. When adding a website to your delicious account, delicious will actually provide you with some suggested tags for that page based on words others have used to categorize that website. For an example, here is a link to my delicious account with all of the websites I have tagged as Web 2.0: http://delicious/andy.cunningham/web2.0. You can further refine your search by combining two or more tags:

As I said, social bookmarking can be a very effective tool for a PLN. Not only can you direct people to your public delicious page you can also follow other people to see which sites they have identified as being important. Simply search for a user and add them to your network. You can browse through your Network's delicious bookmarks and keep up to date with new sites they've added. This could be very effective for a PLC group as people could simply add sites to their delicious account for others in the group to search through.

For those of you who would prefer this transcript in video, watch this:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Never Search for Websites Again!

Many teachers ask me if I spend hour upon hour searching through websites to find ones that are great for the classroom. The answer is NO! In fact, even though I create links to more and more websites all the time, I actually haven't searched for specific websites in months. They come to me. How, you ask? Through my PLNs.

PLNs (or personal learning networks) are defined in this blog as:
"the entire collection of people with whom you engage and exchange information, usually online."

Originally used by people who were actually colleagues in person (ie: our Moodle) the Internet and rise in social media have forced the evolution of what PLNs are. Now you can discuss and share with colleagues from around the world.

There are many ways in which you can build or develop a PLN, but the easiest way to get involved or become a part of one is to try out established PLNs such as The Educator's PLN, Classroom 2.0 or Smartboard Revolution. You'll notice all of these sites were created using a web-tool called Ning. Ning is a place where you can create your own specialized PLN and features free accounts for educators.

Ning is one of many different ways you can be a part of or create your own PLN. Other places you can establish PLNs are Facebook, Blogs, Delicious, Diigo, Wikis and Twitter. If you have not signed up for these services yet, take some time to do so. They can make your life as an educator much more efficient and finding resources less time consuming.

Over the next few weeks I will profile each of these networking services and include tips to help you make use of them not only as a learning tool for you, but also as a learning tool for students in your classrooms.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Time for a Change

Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine. ~Robert C. Gallagher

There are certain times in your life when you realize it's time for a change. Things aren't what they used to be, you get complacent and you need a new challenge.

Or, you get angry that something doesn't work the way it should and start over from scratch. Well, we're not quite there yet, but changes have to happen. Something must be done.

We have to change the way we share our materials - on Moodle, that is. There have been issues with our File Manager module on Moodle, so I have made the decision to switch to a simpler, more open system that will allow open access to all teachers to the materials posted by all Learning Teams.

Below is a video showing you the (new) steps you need to take to share your materials.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May the 4th be with You.

In my last blog post, It's all about Efficiency, I commented on Notebook being, in my opinion, the most efficient program for delivering content to students and sharing with colleagues. One thing I left out, maybe subconsciously on purpose, was that there is great effort needed on the part of teachers to embrace this program and what it can offer.

One comment I've heard many times over my short teaching career is "This is great, but where am I going to find the time to do it?" Time is always an issue and there is no simple answer as to where you can find time to try new things. As educators we are busy enough, so busy that we can easily neglect the rest of our lives and prioritize our careers. It is tough with what limited time you have left to take a risk and try something new, if there is the possibility you may have been wasting your time. We need to choose carefully, I know that all too well.

Notebook can make your lessons and collaboration more effective. It does take time and effort to get comfortable and proficient with this program. That is when you will reap the rewards that Notebook can provide. Many of the skills I have showcased in my blog videos will help you see how something is done. To really get proficient at these skills, however, you'll need to use those skills when developing content. This is why Alberta Ed promotes cross-curricular ICT projects over specific skill teaching. The skills will come through during the process of creation and will be more meaningful.

Below is another quick video on using the Group feature in Notebook.