Monday, April 14, 2008
Blogs and blogging for my professional development in this course has been thought-provoking, educational and a phenomenal experience for me! The opportunity to learn through collaboration by sharing information, thoughts, ideas and asking questions on blogs positively supports my learning. I can now relate and clearly understand that, “Sharing thoughts through self publishing and harnessing the collective intelligence of all users to generate information and solve problems, creates huge changes in how educators (me) and students (myself and those I teach), receive and respond to information. (Next Wave Now: Web 2.0-2007) Accessing various educational blogs and the actual process of blogging for professional development is how I keep and will continue to keep informed of the latest trends and developments in education and teacher librarianship. Blogging enables me to share and reach out to my colleagues with questions and innovative ideas.
Stephen Abram in Teacher Librarians: Sharing and Taking Care of Themselves (Sept/Oct2007) - mentions that he follows about 600 blogs a day, to try and get a sense of what is happening in all types of libraries. I look at a few blogs everyday and that is enough for me at this point in time. He has an extensive list of favourite blogs related to teacher librarianship, school libraries and learning technologies which I have 9 of, so I think it is a pretty good start. By having created my own blog and commenting on our classmates’ blogs and other educational blogs I am able to get ideas out into the world at an amazing speed which benefits me and others.
In the blog, Library Garden(2006) one of the contributors, Robert Lackie blogs about librarians and educators using Web 2.0 technologies which include blogging to communicate, interact, share, create and publish information online. This is exactly what we have been doing in EDES 545! Accessing Library Garden has influenced me to assess how effectively I connect with those who currently access the library at my school and those who will in the near future.
He also suggests that we try setting up a library blog and that we start receiving library or other related topics using RSS feeds via Bloglines. Jennifer had also suggested we do this at the beginning of our course, which I did although at the time I did not realize how beneficial it would be.
As our course progressed, I was amazed at all the information on other blogs online about education, teacher librarianship, technology and so many other related topics. I realized I wanted to be able to access them with ease and remain current. That is when I started to pay attention to what RSS was all about. Browser based Real Simple Syndication aggregator was indeed the solution as readers like me can subscribe to content on blogs and at many other sites. The feeds, also known as RSS feeds, XML feeds, syndicated content or webfeeds, contain frequently updated content published by a website. They are also used for distributing other types of digital content like pictures, audio or video.
When you first view a website, if feeds are available, the Feeds button will change color. You simply click the Feeds button and then click the feed you want to see. You can subscribe to a Feed to get content automatically which I have done and have experienced reading up to date material many times now. You can view your feeds by going to the tab in the Favorite Centre and clicking the star button then click the Feeds button. So easy and so amazing that current material can be accessed with speed and efficiency with just a click of a special button!
Blogging & Professional Development
Teacher librarians, who are isolated from others in their field, benefit from blogging in order to keep up with the latest research, share information and receive support from others in the profession. The article Ending Isolation ( Sept.2006) gives an example of this. However, it also reminds me of our own class. We are scattered all over Canada, but through blogging we can connect, learn, share and support one another in our professional development.
According to Laurel Clyde, author of Weblogs & Libraries not only do blogs bring current trends and issues to our attention, but they also allow us to keep up to date by reading and participating on library and information weblogs. I personally want to know what are the latest developments, how are other educators using Web 2.0 tools in their schools, what issues do they have to address and how do they effectively address them.
Subscribing to educational blogs and utilizing the RSS feeds keeps me current and answers questions I might have. I have learned that there is a lot of support that we can access.
One of the benefits of blogging for professional development is the opportunity to build my own professional network with my colleagues in this class. I can comment on their thoughts and links and they do the same for me. I feel much more confident about the possibility of going on the ‘gurus’site to leave comments and ask questions too. The following quotation is so applicable to our situation in this class. “Learning with others makes the difference, since learning is a social process…and has now gone online with blogs. Learning with others means you take control of the flood of information and data coming into your life.” (Miguel Guhlin – Blogs: Webs of Connected Learning – 2006)
Teacher librarians and educators like us, need to start leaving comments and linking those back to our own blogs for our own professional development, to learn more and to share knowledge. I will most definitely continue to do this even after this course is completed!
Examples of Blogs for Professional Development
As Dr. David Tobin notes in Building Your Personal Learning Network, blogs give us access to a variety of information sources and to people of whom we can ask questions, who can provide us with coaching and mentoring and who can challenge or extend our thinking and our professional development. There are a large number of blogs maintained by librarians and information specialists that provide valuable information. Deciding on which blogs to discuss in this section was a challenge as there are a number that I find very beneficial. One way to decide is by accessing well known bloggers sites such as Will Richardson and explores which weblogs they subscribe to. I must admit that when Jennifer asked us to subscribe to five educational blogs, at the beginning of the course, I depended on the list by Will. However, when I decided to update my blog, give it a fresh look and add more links, I took a more critical look at my original blogroll. I agreed with some of my choices but then added several more. I finally felt confident in knowing which blogs and bloggers truly influence and support my professional development and who I wanted to share with others. I look forward to accessing my classmates’ blogs to learn about some additional quality blogs and bloggers and to include some additional education blogs to my currently extensive blogroll!
Here are a select few blogs that I find very informative.
Anne Davis, EduBlogInsights covers many topics of interest to me such as collaboration, conferences, evaluation, literacy, professional development, social networking, teaching, Web 2.0, writing and many more. She is well known and well respected and her name appears in numerous articles. I like the fact that she has a lot of experience and knowledge to share.
David Warklick’s 2CentsWorth is a familiar blog to many of us. I appreciate Warklick’s open mindedness, his knowledge and his ability to share. According to David with regards to his blog, “It is a conversation. I blog to learn. I do not promise answers here. I will ask far more questions.” I would like mention that this is my philosophy on blogging too. I also blog to learn, and ask lots of questions and need to ask even more for my learning!
Doug Johnson speaks from the viewpoint of librarian and educational technology leader in his The Blue Skunk Blog. His blogs are quite amusing, full of witty comments, while encouraging his readers to think about libraries and technology in a different way. I have found that after reading his blog I do exactly that! Do I always agree with him? Not necessarily, but he does give us some inspirational ideas to consider and often in a humorous fashion!
Jenny Levine, the blogger behind The Shifted Librarian is well known for her knowledge of technology gadgets. She often posts information about ‘cool tools’, along with comments about how librarians could use them in their daily work. After reading her blogs, I am inspired to discuss cool tools in a blog that could be accessed by the teachers at my school. Sharing technology and getting their comments and feedback would be beneficial to my learning, support their learning and benefit the library. Jenny Levine is very good at explaining our profession and the role of technology in it. As she keeps telling librarians, the time to shift is now, hence the name, The Shifted Librarian!
Joyce Valenza’s Neverending Search is well known and one that I often check for updates on my RSS. I find that she frequently blogs and her topics are current and very practical, so I have to keep checking for updates which can be overwhelming at times. I don’t think that I will ever be able to keep up with her. Now that this course is winding down, it is amazing what a better understanding that I have of Joyce Valenza’s 21st Century School Librarian. We are truly living it!
I really enjoy the site of Hey Jude, created by Judy O’Connell from Australia. She has a lot of practical ideas on her well organized blog. I particularly like to access the section on her blog about Judy’s Web 2.0 tools. She has selected ones that she feels are beneficial to students and educators. Judy very deservingly was awarded Best Librarian blog at the 2006 EduBlog awards. (See her comment that she left on my blog in response to SNS security issues and concerns from last week’s blog assignment.)
Will Richardson, Weblogg-ed is another popular blogger that I return to. His site is dedicated to discussions and reflections on the use of various Web 2.0 tools. Will discusses the use of blogs, wikis, RSS, podcasts, social bookmarking and other read-and-write technologies. His site is one that I would utilize with staff to support their learning of various web tools and how to successfully apply them in the classroom. I am hoping to purchase his book for our Professional Library at my school.
Closing Thoughts on Blogs/Blogging for Professional Development
The blog tracking and searching site Technorati published the following statistics in April 2007,
- 70 million weblog
- about 120,000 new weblogs each day, or 1.4 new blogs every second
- 1.5 million posts per day, or 17 posts per second
- growth from 35 million to 75 million blogs in 320 days
I personally had no idea of the popularity of blogging. The statistics are incredible and impressive! More and more educators are becoming active in blogging including myself!
Michael Stephens, the author of the article Tools from Web 2.0 & Libraries: Best Practices for Social Software Revisited (2007) discusses that, librarians join the blogosphere to participate in a community, share expertise and gain recognition within the field. According to Stephen’s, today, the library blog has become its own platform and I would have to agree with him. We know that almost anything can be embedded in a blog now from Flickr, to audio (podcasts, voicethreads, avatar), to video (YouTube). I have explored these tools in this course and hope to introduce some to our staff and students when blogging.
Eventually, if not already, school boards will look for administrators with experience blogging and using other technologies. I am planning on applying to administrative positions with our school board and will add a technology strand to my vitae upon completion of this course!
Mary Ghikas, The Green Kangaroo Blog discusses her amazement at the vitality and generosity of the professional exchange that takes place on blogs. Like her, I too have shamelessly grabbed references to other blogs and web sites, as well as to interesting papers and new books to read. She is also struck by the reflectiveness of many posts, the thoughtful consideration of context, of related issues and concerns of evaluation. Last of all, she is amazed by the personal voice within the blogs which reveal frustrations, happiness, anger and optimism. I have read and felt these emotions in my colleagues blogs and am learning to develop my own personal voice and feelings when blogging.
I have discovered that I find blogging quite gratifying! I look forward to viewing my colleagues’ posts and how they approached the various Web 2.0 tools that we have explored in this course. I find myself reading and checking out their links which connects to other interesting sites which leads me deeper into my learning. It is like a domino effect! I am beginning to feel more confident in my abilities to effectively blog. I look forward to continuing blogging and accessing blogs for my professional development. Learning from others and sharing with my fellow educational bloggers has and will continue to be a part of my ever evolving teaching profession.
I would like to leave you with this closing thought on blogs and blogging for professional development…
"You have great ideas. You’ve done great work. Keeping your innovations and learning to yourself, won’t let your light spread. Everyone can find 15 minutes a week to blog about something they learned or did that week; comment on an idea in Ning, on a wiki or on a blog or start an article preferably with a partner. Share. Your ideas will spread, and learning and libraries will improve. To paraphrase the old saw, in times of extreme change the spoils go to the learners-not the learned.”." (Stephen Abram- Teacher Librarians: Sharing and Taking Care of Themselves)
Sunday, April 13, 2008
I can honestly say that when I went through the course outline I had heart palpitations! Lots of readings really didn’t intimidate me, rather they are a tool that I welcome, to support my learning and understanding. Blogging and blog topics with Web 2.0 tools… yikes! I quickly learned to read and read and read more to find out about these tools. I liked the fact that Jennifer used the term ‘explore’ and that is exactly what I did! This process was ‘hands-on’ learning which for myself was very effective. One can read all they want but unless they actually try the tool, only partial learning will occur.
Connecting these tools to our teaching and learning really makes one critically examine how they teach. Throughout this course I would often reflect back on a quote that I came across; ‘There is a major shift that is critical to our classrooms, not only in what we teach our students, but also how we teach our students.’ (David Warlick) This course encouraged me to critically analyze my teaching strategy and philosophy and gave me the courage to implement change to positively affect student learning.
My cup overfloweth comes to mind when reflecting on all the readings and discussions that we had on our blackboard. Reading the topics for discussion and having to make a decision as to which one to focus on and respond to was a challenge at times. Truly I wanted to read them all but realistically I couldn’t. If you were a random abstract learner before, you had to make adjustments and become a concrete sequential learner or you would not accomplish very much. I mentioned the domino effect in one of my blogs when it comes to accessing information in this course. A reading would have references that you would check out which would have references to other writers or topics and so on. A classmate would share an article read that connected to another article and so on. There were days that I wanted to curl up with my computer and immerse myself in reading and responding to it all but alas my wiki was waiting!
The opportunity to work with a partner on creating a wiki and supporting a discussion was very worthwhile. Not only did I learn about wikis but I was able to develop some skills using the SNS of Facebook for educational purposes. Katie and I corresponded and planned on Facebook and continue to do so. I learned what an effective tool wikis are for sharing of information, thoughts and ideas. I can see so many possibilities for using them professionally with the staff and as a learning and sharing tool with students. I felt that the format used in learning about wikis was an excellent way to learn about the versatility of this tool with a partner and through the opinions and shared information from others.
Deciding which Web 2.0 tool to use to share with my staff as a professional development opportunity was not too difficult as blogs support writing and that is a focus for our school. What made this assignment somewhat challenging was limiting what to include in the paper. I wanted to share details on how I would present this tool to my staff with links to all the great information that I have accessed in this course from articles, other seasoned bloggers and from information my classmates have accessed throughout this course. I am looking forward to reading about the PD choices my classmates have made and perhaps incorporating them into future professional development days at my school.
Reading, discussing, sharing, partnering, exploring, creating, and participating are all effective learning strategies that enabled this course to be so successful for me.
I will admit that there were times that I felt overwhelmed and learning to plan and balance the workload became critical at times. The flexibility that Jennifer showed when making adjustments to our final assignments was very intuitive on her part and greatly appreciated. I can be my own worst enemy as I have high expectations of myself. I found that I spent a great deal of time on my assignments and readings and I began to loose my personal voice in my blogging. It was Jennifer who pointed this out to me and made me realize that academically I had a good understanding of the material but I needed to remember my role in the equation. I will not forget this and plan to continue blogging with a more personal voice on educational matters, issues and challenges.
An overall message that I am taking away from this course is that students today learn differently and I will need to change the way I look at teaching and how I teach in order to reach them and be an effective educator. Perhaps I am a ‘digital immigrant’ but after taking this course I feel that I am closing the gap and coming closer to understanding and developing my technology skills to those of a ‘digital native’.
“Todays education system faces irrelevance unless we bridge the gap between how students live and how they learn.” (21st Century Learning)
Some background and history of our school provides the connection as to why Blogs and Blogging is a good tool of choice for our staff to explore during a professional development day to utilize in their teaching. Currently our school is very much involved in a writing focus. One of our School Development Plan goals is to develop and support student writing skills. Our school is involved with the AISI project of Assessment for and of Learning and has initiated meaningful assessment of student writing skills through the use of rubrics and self assessment. Teachers have received various training sessions related to writing, including Six Write Traits in order to support student writing.
Although some teachers may be aware of blogs, there will be some that will need more of an explanation. Introducing this topic would be accomplished by sharing the video, What is a Blog? found on YouTube. (Arrangements would be needed to have the site unblocked at my school) The commentary on this video clearly explains blogs with the use of a ‘Wine Blog’ site as an example. There will be teachers who question the benefits of blogs and blogging. Without going too deeply into my own experience in this course and all the amazing readings and my own learning, I would share with them The 8 Ways Blogging Makes Me a Better Teacher.
By having each teacher create their own blog, I anticipate support of their own personal learning and understanding of student writing. Through accessing various educational blogs that discuss writing and to learn first hand about the challenges and successes of writing through blogging, their own writing skills will develop.
Time would be taken to share some blogs including my own. Although I am not as experienced as some bloggers such as Joyce Valenza and Will Richardson, the staff relates more to me and I would be able to convince them that if I can blog so can they! Taking them on a tour of my own blog would enable me to point out some special features of blogging such as the various Web 2.0 tools explored, the sidebars with various lists of bloggers and blogs that can be accessed and comments made by my colleagues and outside bloggers.
Some other blogs that I would share with them consist of ones that I personally find very informative, user friendly, current, and support the development of Web 2.0 technologies and libraries:
Hey Jude (very user friendly and informative)
Blue Skunk (this would appeal to our Grd 5/6 Teacher, who provides Tech support and has a great sense of humour including sarcasm)
Library Garden (may appeal to some of my colleagues who are intimidated by independently blogging on a regular basis as it is a group effort)
The Fisch Bowl (great for support of technology in the classroom)
Weblogged (Will Richardson, he is so knowledgeable and covers a lot of information)
Neverending Search ( Joyce Valenza – a guru!)
Cool Cat (introduces a number of technology tools)
The teachers would then be encouraged to discuss with their students about writing and have the students create their own individual blogs. Blog Basics for Classrooms is an excellent site for teachers to access to learn about blogging with students as it is user friendly and very visually appealing. In order to encourage students to initially write, the focus for writing on their blogs would include topics of interest specific to them. Student blogs would give them personal responsibility of their own learning. They would be able to express how they personally feel about something and let their opinions be heard. We want them to write, however we would also need to discuss what an appropriate topic choice is and why. At this time, it would be important to discuss security issues related to blogging and share this link as it is a list of tips for staying safe online for tweens and teens.
The importance and benefits of leaving comments on blogs needs to be discussed with the staff. Sharing an informative link on guidelines (10 tips for a better weblog) for good blogging would be useful. Encouraging all staff to comment on student blogs and students to comment on one another’s blogs is important as it will make their learning more relevant and meaningful. Students will learn from one another and so will the teachers learn from their students and in turn learn from one another. As we have experienced in this course, receiving comments is so motivating and inspirational!
Just as we have participated in reflecting in this course, we need to encourage our staff and students to do the same on their blog. As Anne Davis discusses on her blog, EduBlog Insights, we need to let our students write their way into their own understandings and discover answers to the questions they need to ask. We need to let them be creative, off the wall, and branch out with their own thoughts. Through reflecting on their blogs, staff can discuss and share their thoughts about writing and issues in education.
By now the staff and students should be well on their way to blogging for professional and personal development.
Where do we go from here?
The importance of continuing to blog needs to be emphasized to both staff and students. I would encourage them to ask questions on their blogs as other teachers and students may have an answer or an opinion that they could share by leaving a comment. I would encourage them to create a separate blog entry on a particular subject of interest. I would remind them to access other educators’ blogs as someone ‘out there’ with similar interests may have something significant and relevant to say that will support their learning or understanding. Sharing thoughts on their blogs with regards to writing as an adult, student writing and addressing challenges and assessment issues will be effective for their professional development. I would remind the staff and students to subscribe to their classmates blogs as well as other educational blog sites to experience many different perspectives.
On additional PD days the focus would be sharing some ‘cool tools’ that could be embedded on staff blogs, like podcasting, VoiceThread, and Flickr.
Once the staff is more confident and more knowledgeable regarding the use of these Web 2.0 tools, we can introduce them and teach our students to do the same. This particular professional development topic would be very collaborative as now the teachers would be experienced bloggers and could contribute to the planning and focus of a ‘Cool Tool’ professional development day.
Blogs and blogging is a very practical and effective Web 2.0 tool to introduce to my staff on a Professional Development day. Blogs support the development of our own writing skills, and student writing skills, provides access to quality educational blogs which deepens our understanding of writing and enables us to express our opinions, concerns and ask questions relating to writing.
“Blogging makes us better as professionals but it also makes our classroom better.”
(Vicki Davis, Cool Cat Teacher Blog)
Sunday, April 6, 2008
- 70 million weblogs
- about 120,000 new weblogs each day, or 1.4 new blogs every second
- 1.5 million posts per day, or 17 posts per second
- growth from 35 million to 75 million blogs in 320 days
The statistics are incredible and impressive. More and more educators are becoming active in blogging including ourselves!
Blogs and blogging can and do enable professional development. On EduBlog Insights a teacher named Anne writes about how a librarian's blog—The Shifted Librarian—allows her to learn about a conference she could not attend. She writes, “Those learnings led me to even more learning on the blogs of those who had presented. Talk about professional development.”
Michael Stephens, the author of the article Tools from Web 2.0 & Libraries: Best Practices for Social Software Revisited(2007) discusses that, librarians join the biblioblogosphere to share their voices. The reasons for doing so is to participate in a community, share expertise and gain recognition within the field. According to Stephens, today, the library blog has become its own platform. Almost anything can be embedded in a blog now: pictures from Flickr, audio, video (YouTube), chat(Meebo), presentations (SlideShare), bookmarks (del.icio.us), and more(our stuff, VoiceThread, Podcast, avatar). Sounds like our course!
Librarians are finding ways to add value to their online presence through use of a blog.
Eventually, if not already, school boards will look for administrators with experience blogging and using other technologies. I feel that we can definitely add a technology strand to our resume when applying for administrative positions upon completion of this course!
Mary Ghikas, The Green Kangaroo Blog, succinctly states that when exploring the ‘biblioblogosphere’, she is amazed by the vitality and generosity of the professional exchange taking place on blogs. Like her I too have shamelessly grabbed references to other blogs and web sites, to interesting papers and new books to read. She is also struck by the reflectiveness of many posts, the thoughtful consideration of context, of related issues and concerns of evaluation. I have seen a number of these in the educational blogs that I have accessed. Last of all, she is amazed by the personal voice within the blogs, revealing frustrations, happiness, anger and optimism.
In this time of Web 2.0, we look to each other for news, recommendations, and advice. We want to be involved and we need to write our own story. Blogs can be opinionated, and personal, but they still serve as a valuable research resource for professional development.
"You have great ideas. You’ve done great work. Keeping your innovations and learning to yourself, won’t let your light spread. Everyone can find 15 minutes a week to blog about something they learned or did that week; comment on an idea in Ning, on a wiki or on a blog or start an article preferably with a partner. Share. Your ideas will spread, and learning and libraries will improve. To paraphrase the old saw, in times of extreme change the spoils go to the learners-not the learned." (Stephen Abram- Teacher Librarians: Sharing and Taking Care of Themselves)
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Deciding on which blogs to discuss in this section was a challenge, as there are a number that I find very beneficial. I look forward to accessing my classmates blogs to learn about some additional quality blogs and bloggers and to include, some additional education blogs to my currently fairly extensive blogroll!
Here are a select few blogs that I find very informative.
1. Anne Davis, EduBlogInsights, works at Georgia State University in the Instructional Technology Center in the College of Education as an Information Systems Training Specialist. She works with faculty, staff and students in the area of instructional technology. She has over 20 years experience as an elementary classroom teacher, an instructional lead teacher, a reading specialist, and an instructional technology specialist. Under the title of her blog she has written, 'Comments, reflections and occasional brainstorms' which does reflect what a blog should be about. Anne has covered many topics of interest on her blog, such as collaboration, conferences, evaluation, literacy, professional development, social networking, teaching, Web 2.0, writing and many more. We can access her numerous blogs, leave comments and learn from her, as "Edublog is a place to reflect, discuss, and explore possibilities for the use of weblogs in education." (Anne Davis)
2. David Warlick's, 2CentsWorth is a familiar blog to many of us. He is a well known blogger and speaker who has a wealth of information to share, ranging from assessment to conferences, to evaluation, to the digital divide and many more. I appreciate Warlick's open mindedness, his knowledge and his ability to share. When reading on his blog 'About this Blog', I was impressed by his focus for his blog, that he writes to have his ideas criticized, deconstructed, recombined, added to, and when possible, to be used. According to David with regards to his blog, "It is a conversation. I blog to learn. I do not promise answers here. I will ask far more questions." I have and will continue to learn a great deal from David Warlick!
3. Doug Johnson speaks from the viewpoint of librarian and educational technology leader in his The Blue Skunk Blog . He is an author and speaker in the school library world. His blogs are quite amusing, full of witty comments while encouraging his readers to think about libraries and technology in a different way. According to Johnson, he created this blog so that is a convenient way for people to respond to his writing or presentations, a sounding board for ideas he is currently thinking or writing about. Why Blue Skunk? Check out his blog to find the answer! A very valuable and informative blog for librarians.
4. Jenny Levine, The Shifted Librarian, focuses on changes to the role libraries play as information becomes more portable and technology becomes more prevalent. She is on top of new developments, and travels widely so is able to provide on-the-spot conference reports. Levine’s goal according to Library Journal 2003 is to help librarians become technologically adept so that they can deliver services when and where they wish to use them in their preferred medium and platform. She often posts information about ‘cool tools,’ along with comments about how librarians could use them in their daily work. Some history behind Levine is that when the world wide web came along, she was one of the first librarians out there, finding the good information and material and sharing it with her colleagues in training sessions. In 1995 she created the Librarians’Site du Jour web site where she reviewed a reference web site in detail every day to convince librarians that the web was extremely useful for everyday reference and to give them a reason to make visiting the web a daily habit. She is known for her knowledge of technology gadgets. Her web log convinces many librarians to consider how new technologies might extend services beyond the normal boundaries of location and time. She is very good at explaining our profession and the role of technology in it. As Jenny Levine keeps telling librarians, the time to shift is now, hence the name, The Shifted Librarian!
5. Joyce Valenza's Neverending Search This site is a well known and favorite listed site for librarians. Take a look at it to see why if you haven't already and go to her other sites as well. Librarians and educators are encouraged to join any discussion about emerging technologies, searching and information fluency. Her blogs are frequently focused on a discussion of information fluency, teaching and learning in the 21st century.
6. Judy O’Connell, Hey Jude blog comes out of Australia by a very 'forward thinking' Librarian. She discusses education-related items in general, provoking her readers to take a more criticial look at education and technology. I like what she has to say on her well organized blog. The HeyJude blog she has a section called Judy's Web 2.0 Notes where you can access information about blogging, and various Web 2.0 tools that she feels are beneficial to students and educators. She includes a video clip from YouTube about Will Richardson speaking to blogging and a list of her favorite edu-bloggers. Judy was awarded Best Librarian blog at the 2006 EduBlog awards. (see her comment that she left on my blog in response to SNS security issues and concerns from last week's blog assignment)
7. If you are not sure that you want to blog independently, then you could try getting some of your colleagues at school or fellow librarians to work together on a blog. Library Garden is an example of a blogger-born site where there are a number of contributing members. It was started by Peter Bromberg at South Jersery Regional Library Cooperative, with Janie Herman at Princeton Public Library. Library Garden began after the three teacher librarians introduced some Web 2.0 tools to the Central Jersey Regional Library Cooperative's executive board. According to one member, Robert Lackie, “it has become a just-right mixture of a librarian groupgenerated blog, creating an ongoing conversation among librarians with differing perspectives (public, academic, school, consortial, youth), but with one shared goal: ensuring the health and relevance of libraries."
8. Will Richardson, Weblogg-ed is another very popular blogger. His blog is one of the oldest edublogs on the internet. Richardson blogs about teaching technolgy and literacy in schools. He actually has an entry that is about blogs on bloggers who blog on his wiki. Will provides ongoing inspiration for educators. His site is dedicated to discussions and reflections on the use of various Web 2.0 tools. He focuses on Weblogs, wikis, RSS, audiocasts and other Read/Write Web related technologies in the K-12 realm, technologies that are transforming our classrooms.
TLs can express their ideas and direction of the librarianship profession through blogging. Stephen Abram in Teacher Librarians: Sharing and Taking Care of Themselves(Sept/Oct 2007) follows about 600 blogs a day, to try and get a sense of what is happening in all types of libraries-academic, college, school, public and special libraies. He says that he sees great new ideas being implemented throughout libraryland but worries that these ideas don’t diffuse quickly enough through our world. He wonders if there are ways to improve communication between practicing TLs. He has a list of favorite blogs related to teacher librarianship, school libraries and learning technologies. ( I have 9 on his list) Through creating our own blogs and commenting on blogs, it is possible to get our ideas out into the world and to do this faster.
To ensure the health and relevance of libraries, teacher librarians are encouraged to get involved with blogging. In the blog Library Garden(2006) one of the contributors, Robert Lackie blogs about librarians and educators using Web 2.0 technologies which include blogging to communicate, interact, share, create and publish information online. Lackie goes on to say that by using technologies like blogs in practical and worthwhile applications, we are able to connect with those we are already serving with those we wish to serve in the near future. He states, ‘We all know that we need to continue to reach out to our students and patrons and get them interested in what amazing things we can do for them.’ He suggests that we try setting up a library blog, or start receiving library or special topic related RSS feeds via Bloglines.
Many libraries are using blogs to make their web existence as inviting and interactive as the buildings in which libraries are housed. Libraries are benefiting too as well-written, up to date blogs help librarians relate to their patrons, generate support for new building initiatives and market programs, collections and services. Internally, staff blogs help to strengthen staff communication and solidarity. Tasha Saecker the director of Menasha Public Library, values blogs as an important tool for librarians. She is the creator of two longest-running blogs, Kidslit and Sites and Soundbytes. For Saecker, they provide a venue to stay informed about her own professional passions. According to Saecker, blogging has connected her with a wider library community, where she can gather ideas, know that she is facing the same issues as other librarians and learn from other people’s experiences. She states, “It is a vital part of my professional development as a library director, because, through blogging, I can lead the library to implement new ideas and new technologies. (Why We Blog - Nov.2007)
Teachers librarians who are located in more isolated areas benefit from blogging in order to keep up with the latest research, share information and receive support from others in the profession. The article Ending Isolation(Sept.2006) gives the example of a seasoned social studies teacher who is using a blog to ask her fellow teachers for information, as she is in a training program for schoolwide literacy coaches and her location is isolated. They communicate through blogs as they learn and experience the role of literacy coach in their respective schools. She and her fellow teachers are separated from universities and other educational organizations because of their rural locations and limited resources impede participation in professional development opportunities. The teachers who participated in the initiative needed a way to remain connected to one another. The Supported Literacy staff developed a section of the Literacy Matters web site specifically for the teachers. This site was tailored to fit their assignments, lessons, and reflections and also housed a series of blogs that the teachers could use to share classroom experiences, ask questions, and turn to one another for support. Blogs function as an instant Web publishing system and provided tools for posting comments and linking to information on other web sites. In their blogs they shared experiences using Supported Literacy in the classroom. They received feedback and support from the staff of the program. The blog entries varied from requesting support and assistance to success stories about using the literacy program in their classes. Using blogging to support teachers when they undertake new instructional practices is effective in overcoming time, distance and lack of resources for those who are isolated.
Blogs and blogging for professional development enable teacher librarians to keep up with the latest research on teaching, libraries, technology and learning. According to Laurel Clyde author of Weblogs & Libraries, not only do blogs bring current trends and issues to the attention of libraries and information scientists, but they can also help practitioners to keep up to date by reading and participating in library and information weblogs. They provide valuable resources and information for Library Media Specialists, looking for ideas and professional connections. For For example, Doug Johnson’s The Blue Skunk Blog and Joyce Valenza’s Neverending Search are using their blogs as a tool for professional communications.
In Blogs and Blogging, Part I(2006) Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson explain how library media specialists are using blogs within professional development activities. A TL created a blogger project as part of a sustained professional development activity. She involved teachers with discussions about blogging in schools, young adult literature and blog integration for credits in the course. Larry Johnson integrated blogging into a Web-based course for library media specialists. They shared their expertise in areas such as grant writing, budgeting, promoting the library, technology and leadership.
Teacher librarians can also get up to date information on the exploration of the application of Web 2.0 technologies, links to wikis, podcasts and discussion forums on teacher librarianship when blogging or reading other blogs. Steve Hargardon launched a social network for educators(A Little Help from my Friends -2007)which attracts educators who are exploring Web 2.0 technologies. Participants interact online to ask questions, provide answers, debate and trade information about various web tools including blogging.
One of the benefits of blogging for professional development is the opportunity to build your own professional development network. You can find people from whom you can learn, ask questions of them, comment on their thoughts and links and they do they same for you. “Learning with others makes the difference, since learning is a social process…and has now gone online with blogs. Learning with others means you take control of the flood of information and data coming into your life.”(Miguel Guhlin - Blogs: Webs of Connected Learning - 2006)
Michael Stephens’ doctoral research focused on why librarians blog. The reasons included participating in a learning/teaching community, sharing expertise and gaining recognition within the field of teacher librarianship.
Blogs and blogging enable the educator to reflect, discuss and explore possibilities for the use of blogs in education. An excellent blog to explore is Anne Davis’ EducBlogInsights with numerous examples of blogs in education. However it is not enough to just read blogs, you also need to write. David Warlick, at a TechForum explained that he first began to read a few education-related blogs and then he started exploring more. Teacher librarians and educators need to start leaving comments and linking them back to their own blogs for their own professional development, to learn more and to share knowledge. “Blogs enable me to learn from strangers.”-Miguel Guhlin and so can we!
Friday, April 4, 2008
Brian Kenney in You 2.0 (2007) discusses the web and its influence on school libraries saying that,"The new Web is a very different thing," writes Lev Grossman in Time . It's a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter. It is a revolution, and one that challenges librarians more than nearly any other profession. It's a revolution that we've been documenting in our pages and podcasts, calling it "School Library 2.0" to underscore the connection between this social and informational shift and the school library program.
He goes on to list the various Web 2.0 tools that we can access such as blogs and wikis. Flickr and YouTube. RSS feeds. Social bookmarking. LibraryThing. MySpace and Facebook. Blogger and del.icio.us. and Digg and Technorati. Kenney then discusses,why this revolution is a challenge to librarians, because today, it's through these tools that information is published, shared, and evaluated. This is where information seeking takes place. It's on the Web, in the interaction between "established" media and "user-created" media, that our culture's conversations are taking place.
According to Kenney, now it's all changed. We still need to read our professional publications (in some format or other) and keep current with our users' lives. But we also need to be active participants in the new Web, specifically blogging with its opportunities for community and collaboration. (School Library Journal - Jan.2007)
Accessing various educational blogs and the actual process of blogging for professional development is how we will keep informed of the latest trends and developments in teacher librarianship. Blogging also enables us to share and reach out to our colleagues with innovative ideas and questions.
Monday, March 31, 2008
(Social Networks and Education from reinventing project- based learning blog by Jane Krauss - Oct. 2007)
There are a number of Social Networking Sites that are student friendly and enable educators and students to benefit from accessing them. The sidebar of the article If you can't beat 'em, Join 'em (Aug. 2007) from ProQuest lists four of these sites.
1. Imbee (www.imbee.com)
Content A web-based site developed for the tweener set Features a spot for teachers to have their own class pages and even includes lesson plans. The animated look draws kids in, and the site has all the social networking gadgets of the larger sites, but the teacher areas are open only to whomever the teacher allows in-other teachers, students, and parents. This site gets contributed content from its corporate sponsors, which include PBS and Disney.
2. TIGed (www.tiged.org)
Content An offshoot of the global-awareness social networking site TakinglTGIobal (www.tig.org), where teachers can get their students involved in issues that affect the environment, and other contemporary topics. The site features an activities database, discussion boards, thematic classrooms, and other tools, and teachers control the environment. It's currently being used in more than 700 classrooms in 39 countries. Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard Canada are corporate sponsors, and more than 10 educational foundations also support the site.
3. Tnink.com (www.think.com)
Content: A web-based online learning community sponsored by the Oracle Education Foundation (www.oraclefoundation.org) as a safe space for students to collaborate and share knowledge. It features tools to enable students to publish their own websites and to collaborate on projects with other participating students anywhere in the world.Think.com is also used by students participating in the yearly ThinkQuest (www.thinkquest.com) competition, in which students work together to create an innovative website on any topic within a broad range of educational categories.
4. Haiku Learning Management System (www.haikuls.com)
Content: More than just a social networking site, Haiku LMS is a learning management system that features numerous tools for teachers, including calendars, assignments, and class rosters. Teachers can build their own secure websites and offer collaboration tools such as blogs, forums, and wikis.The site recognizes when a user has multiple accounts for different teachers and can link all the user's class pages. Cost: Free up to 1MB of storage space. Beyond that, from $4.95 per month for 50MB of storage space up to $50 per month for 1GB.
Social Networking Sites have many educational benefits and can be used for a variety of educational purposes;
- lessons can be presented using blog and chat applications
- students can correspond with the teacher through private messaging on SNS
- peer editing and feedback can occur on blogs
- create multimedia projects
- create daily newscasts
- podcasts can be uploaded onto SNS
- write essays from prompts on the blog tool
- write blogs
- post stories
- improve reading skills
- improve writing skills through creating a profile, posts, comments and collaborating and communicating with peers online
- work on collaborative projects
- book reviews/clubs
- share music and write reviews
- creativity through art
- utilize various fun application with an educational focus
- develop surveys
Karen Greenwood Henke, chair of the Emerging Technologies Committee at the Consortium for School Networking (www.cosn.org) states that a social networking site is only effective as an instructional tool if a school has a plan for using it. She goes on to say that any successful social networking site has a reason to exist and that reason shouldn't be because students are going to use it. With a plan in place and curriculum objectives in mind, I firmly believe that the Web 2.0 tool of Social Networking Sites will benefit both educators and students.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
"Schools and libraries are working to integrate positive uses of social networking into their
classrooms, programs, and services. By integrating social networking technologies into
educational environments, teens have the opportunity to learn from adults how to be safe and
smart when participating in online social networks. They also learn a valuable life skill, as these
social networking technologies are tools for communication that are widely used in colleges and
in the workplace."(Social Networking Toolkit - yalsa)
This article goes on to give some excellent examples of the positive aspects of SNS in the library;
- create a MySpace site as a way to connect with teens in the community, including quick and easy access to the library catalog and other research tools
- include information on programs and services at the library
- enables teens who are not traditionally library users an opportunity to learn about and use the library, teens can make the library one of their friends and then are reminded of the library whenever they log onto their space
- post on a SNS about what the library is doing to ensure that students are safe online, include information about Internet filters and any Internet Acceptable use Policies the library has
- create an online discussion forum about SNS
- set up a blog application where adults and students can read about the library's activities and can add comments
- post an information sheet about the positive aspects of SNS and include annotated lists of resources
- give teens the opportunity to connect with favorite authors, artists, and musicians on SNS and then they can leave messages which will develop their social and cultural abilities
- empower students to build a library space on a SNS, have students plan the space, what it should look like and what it should include, who can access it and have links to online safety and library resources including your catalog search
There are actually a few public libraries that use MySpace check them out!
Bethpage Public Library
Hennepin County Library
I wonder if this could ever be possible in the school system where there are alot of filters and blocking of certain sites. It would be an amazing project to take on! But and this is a big but... here are some questions and thoughts to consider before making a decision on this topic. These questions and comments come from School Library Media Activities Monthly, where on March 26, 2008 they linked a transcript of a chat with a High school principal and a popular culture professor discussing social networking, and the educator's role. The questions that we need to ask ourselves based on this article before involving our libraries on a Social Networking Site are:
Should a school library 'reach out' to kids in their digital world?
If we consider it inappropriate to call a student our 'friend' fact to face, is it appropriate to be 'friended' by a student on Facebook?
How will we respond when inappropriate content on a SNS affects the school environment or students? Who is responsible?
The professor who was facilitating the chat felt that kids don't want us in their social spaces, that they are not there to learn but there to be social. I wonder how others feel about this?
On the Library Garden blog, Karen K made the decision to create a MySpace account for her library and was very pleased with the results. As she said, she knows all the kids are there anyway so maybe it would make her library seem cooler and help to reach out to them. Within a week she had asked some to be her 'friends' and more have requested the library to be their 'friend'. She posted info about events and invited their input. She felt that their behavior had improved and their attitude toward the library too, perhaps because the library is now a 'cool' place because they are on MySpace.
On the Information Wants to Be Free blog created by Meredith Farkas, a librarian, writer and tech geek she makes it quite clear that although she thinks it is a good idea to build a presence on a SNS, she feels that most libraries do it really badly. She feels that if the reason is to be cool it is not acceptable. There needs to be a useful purpose, such as getting feedback from students, and to create a library portal. Asking what books and videos they'd like the library to order, asking about services, library hours and collections, getting their opinions, she says is giving them a voice in the future of the library. Farkas goes on to say that libraries that make their SNS an extension of the library Web site with links to the catalog, chat reference pages, research guides, calendar of events, research tools, ask-a-librarian, and links to books, movies, and booklists is much more effective. This was quite an extensive blog with many links and I would recommend that you access it! She has alot of good suggestions that one could utilize when building a presence for their library on a Social Networking Site.
A ProQuest article Librarians on Facebook authored by Kathy Ishizuka in School Library Journal in October 2007, discusses a university librarian's experience with SNS. The librarian, co-founded Librarians and Facebook. Laurie Charnigo says that it has evolved into a valid method of communication but she's has not had much success with students accessing it for educational purposes. I joined Librarians and Facebook today and look forward to accessing this application. It looks like TLs will most likely access it and not students.
In the article, Checking Out Facebook.com: The Impact of a Digital Trend on Academic Libraries,(Mar. 2007) Laurie Charnigo and Paula Barnett-Ellis discuss the results of a survey of 126 academic librarians concerning their view of Facebook. It was found that those who are most enthusiastic about its potential, suggested ideas for using Facebook to promote library services and events. While some librarians were excited about the possibilities of Facebook, they felt that it was beyond the role of professional librarianship.
A valid point was made when they stated that as librarians struggle to develop innovative ways to reach users beyond library walls, it seems logical to consider using SNS which appeal to students. Being made aware of students' cultural and social interests through Facebook may help librarians better connect with their students. The article goes on to say that professors who teach online courses(that would be Jennifer!) make themselves seem more human or approachable by establishing Facebook profiles. We are now 'friends' on Facebook! Charnigo/Barnett stated that some libraries that are on Facebook, say that they create a profile to interact with the students in their natural environment.
One of the main goals of the study was to obtain a snapshot of the perspectives and attitudes of librarians toward social networking sites. Most were neither enthusiastic nor dismissive of Facebook. The highest percentage of respondents indicated that librarians need to keep up with Internet trends, including Facebook. When asked if Facebook serves any academic purpose, 54% indicated that it does not, while 34% were not sure. Some academic uses that were suggested, consisted of Facebook being used as a communication tool for student collaboration in classes, using it as an online study hall, using it for conducting online discussion forums, and using it for building rapport with students through a communication medium that many students are comfortable with. Some librarians in the study suggested that libraries use SNS to promote their services, advertising events, creating online library study groups, and book clubs.
The authors made the observation that there is a fine line between what constitutes academic activity and recreational activity in the library and sites like Facebook seem to blur this line further.
The article states that by exploring popular new types of internet services like Facebook, instead of dismissing them as irrelevant to librarianship, we might learn new ways to reach out and communicate better with a larger group of our student users.
In a power point presentation by Mary Madden of Pew Internet & American Life Project, entitled When Libraries Get Social (Feb. 2007) she discusses the role of the library as being connected nodes of information and community exchange that we use to communicate, collaborate, share resources and preserve knowledge. She shared the stats where teens go online, and 75% of the students go on at school. She goes on to say that social computing is where teens and library meet to connect to people and information. I particularly liked her slide of what a library is,
the Library of the future is...
Web-enabled and participatory
Valued as a physical space
Made of people!
According to the article, Social-Networking Web Sites Pose Growing Challenge for Educators(Feb. 2006), these sites have given rise to issues that leach into schools in ways that can be worrisome. The author, Andrew Trotter goes on to say that concern is running high that students are posting information that exposes them to invasions of privacy and safety threats. School bullies can turn to social-networking pages as a way to torment their victims. He states that on occasion, students have anonymously created pages-often with humorous intent-that purport to be those of prinicpals or teachers.
Issues like these often result in schools filtering or blocking social networking sites in Calgary. However, students still have access when they are at home or can sometimes get around filters says Trotter through different web sites like www.letmeby.com and www.unblocmysite.com.
Schools are encouraged to include lessons on safety and security of SNS and most do. The Federal Trade Commission under Consumer Protection gives a short and useful list of reminders for staying safe on Social Networking Sites. The FTC suggests these tips for socializing safely online for tweens and teens. The list would be beneficial for teachers to use when talking with their students.
Parents need to also be educated the on ways of talking to their child about the internet and what signs to look for if there may be issues. A sidebar on the article, The MySpace Culture (Dec. 2007) discusses the warning signs for parents to be aware of from the Attorney General in the United States;
- spending large amounts of time online, especially late at night
-turning off the computer quickly when adults come into the room
-becoming upset when asked to see what they are doing online
-receiving phone calls, mail or gifts from unknown adults
-making long distance calls using an online account belonging to someone else
From the Heyjude blog of librarian Judy O'Connell, she directs the reader to an article posted in The Guardian (March 25, 2008) warning parents that children are being raised online and concerns about the content they can access and their lack of awareness of parents of what their children are doing on the internet. The Guardian (March 3, 2008) also reported on the results of a survey about the effect of SNS and homework. Apparently, British students are spending less time doing homework then they use to as a result of their use of Social Networking Sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo. It would be interesting if a similar survey could be done here in Canada and what the results might be!
"Social networking presents challenges for us in schools that we have not seen with any of the previous waves of technology." (Social Networking: A New Tech Tool and a New Security Concern for Teens and Schools - May/Jun 2006) SNS are having a huge impact on schools because of the ways in which some students have used them. This article discusses that when students post information on these sites for the world to see, it makes it available to predators. The author, Joanne Barrett mentions the disappearance and subsequent murder of a young girl who had kept a blog on MySpace. As Barrett says it give one pause to think that her thoughts and feelings were recorded for the whole world, including her future killer, to see on MySpace. Barrett goes on to say that another concern is online harassement. Incidences and reports of cyber bullying are on the rise and the ability to use SNS for bullying has intensified.
There have been cases where students have been suspended and expelled from schools due to information posted on their SNS. Even when applying for a job, employers have been known to check SNS for information on potential candidates. Having an inappropriate picture or posting content that is inappropriate may cost you a potential job or the current job you have.
In my opinion Barrett does an excellent job of summing up on how I feel about the security issues of Social Networking Sites. She says the educators have long held the belief that technology is here to stay and the educating our students to the wise use of technology makes the most sense. The successful adults of the future will be those who know how to incorporate the use of technology into all areas of their lives. While we have gained the ability to have instant information and sharing at our fingertips, we still need to educate students on how to use these tools wisely.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Wikipedia lists over 100 social networking sites! When I went through them there were some that were definitely social in nature as they focused on a specific social-type feature such as blogging, photosharing, travel, hobbies, books, business, sports, music, video sharing, and games. I took a more critical stance and decided to explore only those sites that would be considered to be a conventional social networking site that included some if not all the previously mentioned features on their site and that appeared to allow only 13 year olds and older to access them. I managed to reduce the numbers to slightly less than a dozen sites. I noticed that there were a number of SNS related to education that were not mentioned on Wikipedia. I will be discussing them in a separate blog entry.
A number of the SNS are international sites, some out of Europe like Badoo and Bahu. Badoo has 13 million registrants and invites people who are aged 18+ to join their site. An interesting feature is developing 'reportages' of their lives. It is a free site but you can pay to promote your profile. Their slogan is 'The whole world can use Badoo!'
Bahu is not nearly as large and just a year old. It is very popular in France, Belgium and Europe. Bahu invites people from the age of 13 and older to join... 'Hey! Here you can express yourself and meet tons of new friends!'
Orkut is a multilingual site, similar to Facebook, Friendstrs and MySpace. It has 59 million followers and is popular in India and Brazil. Because it is affiliated with Google, when I went to the site, it welcomed me back and asked for more information before starting. I did not bother as I already have a Facebook account and that is enough for me at this point in time. Orkut can be accessed at http://www.orkut.com/.
The SNS of hi5 is popular in Cyprus, Romania, as well as in Latin America and has many Asian teens who register on their site. 'hi5 - Who's In?'... as of 2007, 98 million users!
Faceparty ...'the biggest party on earth!', is a popular SNS out of the United Kingdom with registrations around 35 million. Initially it was popular with teenagers but now people in their thirties and forties access it, utilizing their chat room. I was not impressed when I went to their site as the home page had a scantily clad girl on it and some inappropriate terms on the page. You are supposed to be 16 years and older to register but I question whether 16 is too young and whether even younger kids are accessing this site.
Habbo, created in Finland is popular worldwide. Users create an avatar, there is a virtual hotel, chat rooms and discussion forums. As of January of this year there are 86 million users and 75,000 avatars created weekly. The home page lists a number of activities that a registrant can do on this site and alot of them were games. A list of discussion forums was at the bottom of the home page and some looked quite interesting.
Out of the States, is myYearbook that has 6 million users with 90% being American. This site was created by two high school students based on the concept of a yearbook. The purpose was to keep records of students and to keep in touch with high school friends upon graduation. It continues to grow in popularity as there are alot of friends out there...'myYearbook, You've got Friends!'. A very colorful and activity filled home page which would be quite appealing to the teenage crowd.
The Social Networking Sites that are more well known to us are; MySpace, Friendster, Nexopia and Facebook.
According to Dana L Fleming in the article, Youthful Indiscretions (2008, ProQuest) MySpace is routinely ranked among the top three most popular websites in America. The site was founded in 2003 by Tom Anderson, a graduate student at UCLA. It was initially created to enable musicians to show case their music. Two years later, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. purchased MySpace for $327 million. She goes on to say that MySpace boasts an international audience with more users than any other networking site in the world.
MySpace is very popular with the older teenagers but younger ones have been known to access it too. Teenagers use it to communicate with each other about their favorite music, online videos, pictures and more. While artists and musicians use it to promote their work and network with other artists around the world.
My connection to MySpace is through our 'undaughter' the best friend of my oldest daughter, who spends a great deal of time with our family. When I asked her if she had an account and why, she responded that she has one for the music and music videos. She has attended several 'shows' which feature various bands around Calgary and where she has taken many photographs. One of the bands 'The Hollywood Gods' has asked her to take photos for them after seeing her photographs on MySpace. She took me into her account to see the photos that are posted for that band with her name below acknowledging her as the photographer. They were pretty awesome looking black and whites!
Friendster was one of the first sites to get noticed by the online community when it opened to the public in March 2003. Friendster was founded in California and is privately owned. According to Wikipedia, there are over 50 million users who are mostly in Asia. and is a multilingual site. It has a video page to add to your profile through YouTube, Crackle and Shankle.
Joanne Barrett briefly refers to Friendster when discussing Social Networking Sites in the ProQuest article, Social Networking: A New Tech Tool and a New Security Concern for Teens and Schools (May/Jun 2006). She states that the most notable aspect of Friendster was its unprecedented access to the coveted 25 to 35 year old demographic. She goes on to say that wanting access to marketing dollars targeting this important group, a number of big Web players started up social networking sites. While Friendster enjoyed an intial membership explosion, many of the users from the initial demographic seemed to get bored with the technology and moved on to other things. Friendster was considered to be a top online SNS until 2004 when it was overtaken in terms of page views by MySpace. It also receives competition from Facebook.
Nexopia is a made in Alberta product! This social networking site originated in Edmonton and was created by Timo Ewals, a 18 year old 'programming wizard and rebellious renegade' (from About Nexopia). Today there are over 1.2 million registered members.
The 'About Nexopia' page goes on to say that it was initially designed as a way to fight back against his high school for banning floppy discs (that's a flash from our past!). Ewals wanted to connect his friends online. Nexopia prides itself on the fact that its members are outspoken and opinionated about their culture. This culture commentary goes on to say that by supporting, promoting and developing music, art and cultural events they managed to foster an authentic engagement with their members and have made Nexopia oh so much more than just another faceless internet utility. Nexopia creators state that whether they are arguing ideas in their forums, handing out bandanas in a Warped Tour mosh pit, or partnering with the world's leading media companies to put on high profile cultural events, Nexopia is the social network that's become a lifestyle.
I can understand why this SNS appeals to a younger user. My 14 year old who is in grade 9 has an account with them. He also has a Facebook account but says all his friends are on 'Nex' so he wants to be too. His older sisters brought to my attention that junior high students use Nexopia and senior high students use Facebook! Which now brings me to my own use of Social Networking Sites, I have a Facebook account.
I chose Facebook because it was the only SNS that I knew something about as my own children have accounts. They guided me through setting up an account at Facebook and then I have taken it from there.
Facebook was created in New England by a Harvard sophomore, Mark Zuckerberg. Originally it was meant for undergraduates with a .edu email account but has now opened up to include a wider audience. According to Mark Sullivan of PC World in his article Is Facebook the New MySpace?(July 2007), Facebook has reinvented itself to retain its core members as they move on from college life. The site allows you to search for new friends at companies not just at schools. The useful(??) little applications are apparently turning the site into a networking home page. Sullivan goes on to say that these new features and Facebook's clean design are beginning to attract an older audience of high-tech professionals (the class of EDES 545).
Facebook's home page indicates that it is a free social utility that connects you with the people around you. It lists how to use Facebook; to keep up with friends and family, share photos and videos, control privacy online, reconnect with old classmates, discuss interests and hobbies and plan parties and events.This is not a flashy home page and would appeal to a more mature membership.
Once I got in, the fun began! Visually, it actually became quite busy with advertisements, and appeals to sign up for various applications. I wanted to try out all sorts of applications but then quickly realized how time consuming they are and for me personally they had no productive purpose. I still chose a few so that I could experience them. My youngest son quite frequently sends me requests to try various applications such as Which Marvel Super Hero Are You?... apparently I am like Gambit from marvel comics, whoever he is!
I have 3 scrabble games going. One with Katie from our class, with Simon Rose an Albertan author and with three teenagers one being my 18 year old daughter. I must admit I don't spend much time on them. If I have not come up with a word in a few minutes, I move onto something else.
I have used 'The Wall' to leave messages and my kids leave messages there for me too. When I initially used my account, my son left me a message on my wall saying ...'YOU GOT FACEBOOOKK!! does this mean I don't acutually need to talk to you at home or should all our conversations be on Facebook?' ...ha ha funny 12 year old!!
Once I read a message on my son's wall which I felt should have been posted in the private message area so I sent him a private message explaining why he needs to be more discreet about what he puts on his wall as everyone can read it. He understood and is now more careful. The privacy issue definitely is a concern on SNS and will be discussed more in a separate entry.
Katie and I communicated on Facebook during the creation and discussion of our wiki. We have continued to do this and also play scrabble. It has been a great way to get to know a classmate in our distant learning classroom. I can tell Katie seems much more familiar with Facebook than I as she has alot more happening on her site. I like Jennifer's display of favorite books and current books being read. So far, I have used Facebook more for the 'social' aspect and when I have more time, I would like to develop more educational uses for my Facebook account.
Social Networking Sites are numerous and cater to a wide range of ages and interests. Some people have more than one SNS where they keep in touch with friends and meet a variety of new people with similiar tastes and interests. An interesting video which looks at Facebook, MySpace and YouTube takes a positive spin on social networking and is worth viewing.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Membership into these sites are free and anyone can become a member by setting up an account. SNS can be open to all other members of the site or they can be accessed by invitation only if the user so desires.
Social Networking in Plain English on the Commoncraft show, clearly explains the basics of SNS and why they are so popular. View this video clip here.
A January 2007 survey by the Pew Charitable Trust found 55% of all online youths ages 12-17 have profiles on Social Networking Sites, with 48% visiting them at least once a day. A recent survey by Grunwald Associates found 71% of tweens and teens between the ages of 9 and 17 visit SNS weekly. In the Pew survey, 91% of all social networking teens say they use the sites to stay in touch with friends they see frequently and 82% say they use the sites to stay in touch with friends they rarely see in person. While 70% of older girls have used SNS compared with 54% of older boys, the boys 60% are more likely than girls 46% to use the sites to make new friends. Interesting statistics coming out of the U.S. and I wonder if the statistics in Canada would be similar.
The younger generation are not the only ones accessing Social Networking Sites. Some of these sites are attracting an older audience like ourselves. (I mean that in the most delicate way, ie 'mature' audience!) Keeping in contact with colleagues, friends, and business associates and searching for former high school or university friends are some of the reasons that we are on social networking sites.
According to Kristina Woolsey (Nailing Digital Jelly to a Virtual Tree, Learning & Leading with Technology Dec/Jan 2007-08 36(4)) found in our course readings:
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
VoiceThread has really opened my eyes to a number of possibilities in my personal life, in my classroom and in my professional development.