Ok Fine. I’ll Tweet. Or at least I’ll lurk your tweet..

Screen Shot 2013-10-18 at 11.00.17 AMI joined Twitter years ago, after attending a conference that lauded its potential for professional connection. I signed up, trolled around for a while, got confused by all the @s and the #s and promptly forgot about it, only checking it once every few months. Then my twitter account got hacked and I had to change my password and it was too difficult and too time-consuming (it would have taken me all if five to ten minutes to figure out my password- can’t possibly spare the minutes!) for me to bother.

I don’t know why I’ve had such a block with this social media. Perhaps it was because I didn’t want to have to go check another site. I mean, I already had all my RSS feeds plus Facebook and now linked in. How many social media sites does one have to be on anyway?

Another reason, is that though tweeting is all about brevity, the people who do tweet seem to do it with a frequency that rivals rabbit reproduction rates (try saying that 5 times). It was daunting- I didn’t have that much to say or share.

Then, last year, Mr. P. wrote a guest blog post on this here blog. I dutifully, edited it and read it, but the idea that I could use twitter not just as a method for communicating with my peers, but as a research tool did not sink in ( sometimes I am slow on the uptake).

Now, my slow awakening to twitter has been precipitated in the last few days by the imminent demise of igoogle. At the risk of sounding like a tech dinosaur, igoogle is (but soon won’t be, going the same way as the google reader and the dodo) a page where you can add as widgets,  the sites that you most frequently visit. On my igoogle page (which was my default home page on my browser) I had my email, my RSS feeds, the weather, my calendar, and my newsfeeds, which included NY Times most emailed, CBC news, etc. I loved my igoogle page. I could scan all this stuff, check out the things that interested me  and then move on.

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But igoogle is on its last legs and I needed to find an alternative. I opted for Netvibes, another app that allows you to gather all your important widgets in a visual display (aesthetically not so pleasing as igoogle, but beggars can’t be choosers as the saying goes):

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One of the default widgets they had on the page when I signed in was, lo and behold, my twitter feed (how they knew how to access it is a bit of disturbing question, but I can only imagine it is because I use the same email for both). It came to me then that my main problem with twitter- that I would have to actually go to the twitter site to view the feed – was now solved (I know- I could have done this long ago). I could scan my twitter feed along with my news feed and not be more bothered than that. Only problem is, I had neglected my feed for so long I was only following a few  people. And also, how the heck do the hashtags work?

So. I spent a few minutes bulking up the people I follow. I also tried searching different hashtags. Here is the results of one of my searches:

Screen Shot 2013-10-18 at 10.52.40 AMI clicked on the first link to see if it was helpful, and lo and behold, a whole new way of viewing information popped up at me:

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So far so good. I feel like a whole new batch of innovative ideas just arrived at my doorstep!

By the way, there are many apps on the iPad that allow you to view all of your social media , from Facebook to the NY Times in one place. Flipboard.

Do Your Students Know How To Search?

Last week I gave a session to a grade 11 class on how to research, so the article below is especially salient, at least in my mind. Our students may be digital natives (that is, a generation that have grown up with computers and the internet from day one) but that does not mean they know who to tap into the full potential of the internet or that they use it in anything but a passive, consumeristic (is that even a word? Consider it coined if not) manner.

This was confirmed the other day when I escorted three of our students to the World Social Science Forum to participate on a panel on the internet and youth. In order to prepare for the panel, the academic leading the discussion sent us some examples of sites where students can unleash their full creativity- from coding to deviant art. Though many of the sites mentioned were not new to me, I was surprised at how the reaction of the students. “I had no idea these even existed,” sad one. “Why don’t we talk about those more?”

Ok- so that is a discussion for another day (and one behind my belief that discussion on responsible use and digital citizenship needs to be framed more in a positive light). But another thing that came out both in my session with the girls and on the panel, is that even the students do not feel they are sing the power of the internet adequately.

This goes for searching as well. In the article below they give some effective online search strategies. Have you every used any of them? I admit, I have only used the quotations marks to search for a whole phrase.

And then my mind got blown when I saw this short, one minute video about using Google news to find primary sources, something that would have been very useful to show the grade 11 students as they searched for events in the 20th century:

You never stop learning…

See on Scoop.itipadyoupad

There is a new digital divide on the horizon. It is not based around who has devices and who does not, but instead the new digital divide will be based around students who know how to effectively find and curate information and those who do not.

See on www.edudemic.com

Apple Launches Apps for Teachers Category + Apple Press Invitation Sent

Forgive if this post seems like it is accompanied by a huge sigh. Apple has announced a media event on October 22. Which can only mean one thing- a new generation iPad.

Sigh.

Anyone else feeling obsolete?

Also, check out the teacher’s corner on the app store (see article before for more information). I would be curious to know if you find something new!

See on Scoop.itipadyoupad

In recognition of the widespread use of iPad sin schools and general education, Apple recently released a new Apps for Teachers category in the App Store.…

Lina Gordaneer‘s insight:

Although many of these I have already talked about, it is worth taking a look….

See on ipadeducators.ning.com

 

 

Why Are Girls Not Pursuing Computer Science Degrees? – Edudemic

See on Scoop.itipadyoupad

Why don’t more girls pursue technology careers, become scientists, or become computer scientists? They seem to be self-restraining from computer science degrees and more.

Lina Gordaneer‘s insight:

“Basically, girls are just as good at computer science as boys are, but they begin to perform differently once they begin to think that boys are better at it. ”

Whoah. Although we have an initiative at our school that is about to launch, this infographic adds a little bit of urgency to it…

See on www.edudemic.com

Here is the infographic:

how-girls-hold-themselves-back-from-pursuing-computer-science-infographic_521d090625dad

 

 

The CRAAP Test: Is the Website CRAAP-certified?

Inspired by a workshop I attended last spring, where a high school librarian requires her students to submit a CRAAP evaluation for all websites that are not library or teacher approved, I thought I would make a form for teachers to pass on to their students whenever they have to do research:

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Click HERE to view the whole form!

I simplified it quite a bit and made it an easy quiz format, where the students simply have to choose an option and keep track of their points.

As many of our students tend to begin their research by googling, this might be a great way to get them to re-think their methodologies and use official reference sources or library-vetted websites in order to NOT have to fill out this form for every website they use.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

P.S. I tried it out on the iPad through the google drive app and I was able to fill it out…

Word Doc to Editable Google Doc: The Missing Step

In my inbox this morning was a query from the history teacher to our intrepid IT committee wondering why, when she uploaded her Google doc to share with her students who were supposed to edit it, were they not able to? Have you had this happen before? I have. I never really looked into it, just assumed that Google doc was a tad xenophobic of other formats. My way around it was to simply copy and past my text into a new google doc.

However. Apparently there was a step I was missing when uploading my file. Thanks you Dan the Man for sending the instructions!

Here is a video on how to upload them:

Here are the written instructions as given by Dan:

Uploading Word Documents to Google Docs

1. Sign in to your Google Docs account
2. In the upper left corner of the window, click Upload
3. Click “Select files to upload
4. Select the Word file(s) you would like to upload to Google Docs
5. Click Open
6. Make sure “Convert documents, presentations, and spreadsheets to the corresponding Google Docs formats” is selected
7. Click Destination Folder to select a destination folder, if desired
8. Click Start Upload
Note: I just tried it. The first document I uploaded had the conversion off. Though I turned it on, the document I just uploaded did not convert. I was not able to edit it:
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But the second time I tried to upload the file, the conversion option was already turned on and I was able to edit it:
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You can see the difference with the icons :
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Now, if only it was possible to turn on the conversion before I start uploading my file.Wait a minute…I just figure it out! Go to settings–>upload settings–>convert uploaded files to google format:
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There you go! Hopefully this will help you be a little more streamlined than me…

Miley, Sinead and Amanda: a lesson plan on the good, the bad and the ugly of social media interaction

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I have been following the whole Miley Cyrus v.s Sinead O’connor discussion with interest. At first it was because it is an interesting and salient discussion about gender and the media and who is in control. Is Miley Cyrus the drive between her slightly pornographic, mostly absurd wrecking ball video? (I am not going to link to it- you can go see it for yourselves if you are so inclined). Or is she, as Sinead O’Connor’s open letter to Miley states, simply a pawn being manipulated by the men in suits who see her as a pretty, money-making thing and who will throw her out like a used kleenex the moment she starts to sag?

But then I realised it was also a great case to discuss with students, as per the suggestion in last week’s article I posted giving 3 tips for building Digital Citizenship:

Another way to promote these conversations is to openly talk about celebrities and other high profile figures that have gotten themselves into trouble using social media. In her article, “What do ClimateGate, Tiger Woods, and Michael Phelps have in Common?” Beth Holland highlights the role that social media played in the very public scandals of these prominent and respected celebrities. The news media is rife with examples: Anthony Weiner, Amanda Bynes, and Charlie Sheen are constantly in the news for their missteps online. These are great ways to get students talking about how social media blunders can lead to some serious consequences.-edudemic

I would argue that the Miley vs. Sinead (and then add in a little Amanda Palmer) goes further than showing how celebrities get themselves in trouble- it also shows how there can be meaningful dialogue online.

If you haven’t been following this case here is a brief summary:

1. Miley Cyrus (formerly the artist known as Hannah Montana) is trying to change her image from wholesome Hannah to Sexy Miley. She makes a video called Wrecking Ball where she parades around in her undies and then swings naked on a wrecking ball. She cites Sinead O’Connor’s iconic “Nothing Compares 2 U” as an inspiration.

2. Sinead O’Connor takes exception (as she so often does, bless her soul). She writes this open letter to Miley. The letter makes some good points, but is respectful to Miley. The conversation has started!

3. Miley Cyrus responds by posting a screenshot of Sinead O’Connor’s tweets two years ago when Sinead was going through an episode brought on by her bipolar disorder:

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And then the conversation degenerates with Sinead writing a furious second open letter and then some more tweets from Miley, trying to make nice and Sinead declining the olive branch and then, out of left field, Amanda Palmer raises the dialogue with an open letter to Sinead O’Connor where she respectfully disagrees with her self-proclaimed hero.

I know, right? So much fodder for discussion!

I was thinking about this yesterday and felt like it would be a perfect exercise for a real-time collaborative exercise:

1.As homework, ask your students to read the open letters and Mileys’ tweets.

2. In class, set up a syncspace (if you want to get fancy and make it a whiteboard) or even just a simple google doc. Get the students to identify the positive and the negative sides of this discussion.

3. Identify the places where they got in trouble (Sinead’s posts from two years ago, the screenshot, Miley’s brash and stupid response).

4.Talk about the positive uses-the way that you can use social media to discuss different points of view (Sinead’s letter, Amanda’s letter- which was done with the utmost respect even if she disagreed with Sinead).

5. Ask your students what they think? have they ever had a conversation that got out of control like this one? Have they ever rashly posted something when they were angry? Have their legitimate posts or ideas have ever been met with a personal attack?

I think this is a great example of the potential and pitfalls of the online platform-It would get the students talking andI’m sure what they have to say would be worth hearing.