Monday, January 30, 2012

Twitter Guide Book – How To, Tips and Instructions by Mashable

My first step to becoming a more competent Twitter user.

Twitter Guide Book – How To, Tips and Instructions by Mashable

I also started using "AddThis" so I can easily post things I find and learn to my blog. I'm loving this new tool.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Inquiry Project Proposal

I am excited to do this inquiry project as it is giving me an “excuse” to play with many Web 2.0 tools that I have wanted to explore.  I am a very hands-on learner and learn best by doing.  I am not afraid of technology – thanks in part to the “back” or “undo” buttons :) - but often I can get in a rut of resorting to the things I know best.  I have been an active blogger for educational reasons for a year and have begun to explore web site design and social media applications for use in my school.  I have also had to quickly learn the ins and outs of our school computers and server since I became the librarian at the start of the school year.  I consider myself an “intermediate” when it comes to this inquiry project.

I have created a Google calendar for this assignment and have posted it on my blog.  I plan to update my progress with this assignment once a week, although I hope to post quick “reaction” posts when I try something new.  I will update the calendar with specific “tasks” as I do them.

With this inquiry I hope to:
•  become comfortable enough with the tools I am exploring to use them regularly – or perhaps realize they are not suited to my needs but I will at least understand why
•  become a technology go-to person in my school and offer mentorship for those who are interested in trying similar tools
•  improve the learning environment and opportunities for my students by offering different experiences and options for their education
•  create a Personal Learning Network (PLN) where I can continue to grow as an educator

Web 2.0 Tools to explore:

•  Twitter  - I signed up for Twitter on January 8, 2012.  My good friend Maureen Parker, who is the Director of Curriculum in the Battle River School Division has been urging me for about a year but I was resistant.  I was not aware, nor convinced, of the educational value of this tool.  Already I am seeing I was wrong.  For my inquiry I plan to begin by learning about the workings of Twitter, including how to use hashtags, “twitter speak,” and other tools to make Twitter effective.  I am already “following” many interesting people on Twitter and I would like to expand and in some cases, edit that list.  By the end of my inquiry I hope to have a routine with regards to posting, reading and sharing.  At this point I see my Twitter learning being focused on personal professional use but I then hope I can explore how I might use this tool in the classroom and library.

•  Google Apps for Education – I was familiar with some of the Google apps like calendar and documents but I did not know there was a specific section directed at education.  I like the idea that by using these apps students and I will have access to our materials regardless of our computer operating system.  I also like that students can work on things collaboratively.  I plan to begin by taking part in the online training Google has available.  I am then hoping to make use of the apps in “real” situations – such as creating my timeline on a Google calendar for this project.

• (and possibly other sites for student blogs) – I have been thinking about student blogging for about a year but have struggled with finding the “easiest” way to go about it.  I was concerned that getting students to set up their own blogs and then monitoring that would become too complicated.  A friend who teaches elementary school is using so I thought this would be a good place to start.  I am already impressed with how easy it was to set up and that I could create the pages for all my students so they are now ready to go.  I am going to start with this platform but as I do my inquiry I also want to explore other options and compare features.  My hope is to be partially paperless for my English 12 classes in the 2012/2013 school year so I feel this is a good time to experiment.  I also have two awesome classes this year that I know will be willing to “play” with this tool with and for me.  I hope to include some of their feedback on my inquiry blog as part of my demonstration of learning.

•  Poll/Survey tools – I have wanted to include surveys and polls on our school and library web site so I think this is the perfect opportunity to do so.  I hope to try several options and will begin with “free” services.   I think this will be a fun tool to try but I also want to make sure it isn’t “too much” in the sense that polls and surveys are ignored because they are happening all the time.  I would like to explore other school uses for this kind of polling and see what appears to be the most effective.

•  RSS and Blog Aggregators – There is a widget for RSS on my Wordpress class blog but I honestly did not know what it meant.  I thought it had something to do with following my blog on a handheld device like a cell phone.  This will be one inquiry item that I know nothing about before I begin.  (Although I do know now that RSS stand for Really Simple Syndication.)  I need to do some research on RSS and I plan to share my findings and understanding on my blog.  Hopefully, by the end of the inquiry, I will be using RSS.

•  iPad – As I mentioned in a current event discussion post, the previous librarian at my school purchased an iPad at the end of last year before he retired and it has been virtually unused since.  I want to learn more about the iPad personally and then explore educational use options.  I did find it very convenient the other day when I was dealing with a computer that wasn’t working.  I could search for help on the iPad while I was working on the desktop computer.  I plan to watch many of the user videos and even try reading a book on the iPad so that I can better understand how it works and how our students and/or staff can use this tool.  I will post my reflections and experiences on my blog as well as good and bad apps that I find.

•  Social networking mentorship – I was the first staff member at my school to begin using a blog as a teaching tool.  I began last year by creating a blog where students can find out what we did in class that day, get any handouts or presentations that were given, and also where I could share interesting visuals, books I am reading, and links to educational sites or information.  This has been an incredible time saver for me as I no longer have to send stuff to the office for absent students, and parents can see what is going on in class any time.  I presented this tool at a staff meeting last year and there are now several other staff members who have created class blogs for this purpose.  Others have also added Facebook pages and Twitter to supplement this communication tool.  I would like to continue this “mentoring” role by getting my principal more connected to the Web 2.0 world.  She approached me about helping her set up a blog and I would like to work  with her to make it a success.  I plan to help her have a vision for the blog, get her comfortable with the platform she chooses, and also provide prompts and reminders to post regularly.  She has a Twitter account but has not tweeted since it was set up.  (I suspect it was a District Administrators’ pro-d activity set up by Chris Wejr who is a principal in our district and a “mover and shaker” in the Web 2.0 world – but many of the administrators did not follow through after the initial introduction to Twitter.)  I will provide a link to her blog on my inquiry blog and also ask her to provide feedback about the process – maybe even as a “guest blog post” on my blog.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

In the beginning...

Here is my Autobiography of a technology user.  I think it's a good place to begin for this inquiry.

Autobiography Prezi

Sunday, January 8, 2012

LIBE 477 Inquiry begins

Finished reading Kist's book and am now so inspired to "play" with new literacies. Signed up with Twitter today and have been exploring Ning - asked to join two Nings so far. I have so many ideas running through my head, this course could be dangerous, LOL.

Here's a bit of inspiration for the day so that my first post has a bit more visual appeal. I used this video in my Leadership class and the discussion that followed was truly inspired.