Well, it seems AOL has started setting loose the blogs on its millions of subscribers. I think it will be interesting to see what people think. Yesterday I found Jeff Jarvis’ beta blog which led me to create my own heavily branded space to play with. Couple things are pretty cool, though. I like the way the comments just expand down from the post when you click on the link. And you can post by sending an IM. But as Jeff says in one post, they’re going to need to allow for more personalization if they want to make this work. (Interesting that Jeff’s also experimenting with TypePad…much nicer don’t you think?)
Just as an aside, turns out Jeff is just up the road from me in Bernards, NJ, and he points to a Web log being kept about a local community nearby. Seems I can’t look at stuff like that any more without getting ideas for student run or community run Web logs that go beyond what the local scribes can produce. So many idea, so little time…
UPDATE: I love this…just sent a post via IM and got this response:
AOLJournals: OK, I added this entry to your journal “Braindumpings”. You can always edit this entry to add a subject, description of music you’re listening to, or mood. To add to this entry, just send me another message now.
I feel so, um, attended to…
Bryan Bell and his friends are just doing such amazingly good stuff with Manila themes that it makes me want to clear the desk and do nothing but learn CSS and how to make Manila macros work. The Bloggercon site is wild, and now Robert Canales who just released “pureSqueezed” tells us to expect “many more to come in the future.” I really wish I could design like those guys…
On a side note, I got an invite to attend BloggerCon in October. Still not sure what the education panel is going to look like, but if K-12 is underepresented, I may have to crash the party with eBN t-shirts…how about “I’m a Teacher and I’m Blogging This!”
Pat will grow misty-eyed as he scrolls through this summer Web log from the Jersey shore. A bunch of Newark Star-Ledger “reporters” are chronicling their summers of mostly girls and tourists and bars. Now I know making any attempt to connect this to an educational pursuit is a stretch, but I think it would be cool to have selected students contribute to a Web log on our school site that let’s us follow along with their summer exploits. All items reviewed by the managing editor before being released, of course…
Joe gets his students on the Odyssey site. Great stuff. I especially like “You’re going to write the textbook. What are you curious about?” That is a perfect use of a Web log…text book, study guide, reference source. When Mr. Luft gets his own school…watch out.
BTW, the complete rundown of Odyssey Web logging stories: Helen Turnbull, Anne Davis, yours truly, Pam Pritchard, and Joe Luft. That in itself makes for a pretty good intro to the potential of Web logs.
Intel has been running some tech workshops with teachers and they’re using an MT Web log to chronicle their efforts. Looks like the Tulsa workshop is just starting, but the Plymouth one has some interesting content to click through. There are some really interesting ideas for Web log use in the 7/10 entries. Some excerpts:
Good stuff. Imagine if we had a repository for just the ideas…
Last week I heard an NPR segment with David Weinberger about Wikis, and to be honest, until then, I hadn’t been able to wrap my brain around the concept in an educational sense. When I presented last week with Sarah on Weblogs as Journalism, we took a look at Wikipedia, and we started thinking about the possibilites of this “social software” as many are calling it in terms of reporting. When you think about it, it’s a potentially great tool for community journalism, and really speaks to Dan Gillmor’s “my readers know more than I do” philosophy.
Yesterday, Pat pointed me to Ken Tompkins’ Wiki site Weblog Kitchen. I hadn’t really spent any time there, but it’s a pretty cool undertaking. He poses the same question I’ve been asking about Wikis: “A visitor (or, perhaps, a vandal) asks, “why can I edit this?” The answer is simple: this is an open space where many researchers work together.” Nice…and some interesting applications for teaching, I think. I’m thinking that this fall when I get my journalism kids back I’m going to have them produce a wiki story or two, collaborative efforts on topics of interest that will eventually be published in the school paper under all of their bylines. Also, I’m thinking about trying a far-flung collaboration with this. Imagine if two classes from both coasts and divergent backgrounds worked on a wiki story about the inequities of school funding (or something like that.)
It could be done in a Web log, I know, and the “vandal” may be more inclined to strike on the high school level, but the concept of working together to create a piece of work for a common good in a totally open forum does have it’s appeal. Any potential collaborators out there?
Nice to be back up and posting again after such a long absence. It was really frustrating trying to navigate the server issues, and we’re still not done trying to bring the rest of my sites back to life on our local server. But as with anything else, there is a bright side to all of this. First, I’ve been forced to get a lot more comfortable with Frontier, and it’s starting to make a bit more sense to me. I’m not as afraid to dig into it…not sure if that is a good or a bad thing, but at least I feel like I have a better handle on how to maintain it.
Second, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a reminder every now and then that things can break, and that nothing in technology is perfect…far from it. In there is the reminder as well that technology is not the most important thing in life. While at first I was literally depressed at the problems that were occurring, when I finally gave myself up to the fact that there was nothing I could do about it and started focusing on other important aspects of my life, it was very freeing. After cranking out content on this site for about a year and a half on a pretty consistent basis, it has become a part of my routine. And I still value and enjoy the process of blogging…the reading, thinking, sharing, reflecting process that I think is so important to my own learning and to my students’ learning. This site is something I am very proud of.
But I’m also attached to my kids and my wife and my place and my friends who have sometimes taken a back seat to all of this. And my forced exile did much to ground me in that very important side of my life. So…it’s nice to be back at it with a bit of perspective. Now that I’m off of the school server, I’m going to add back the “Personal” Department and seek a bit more balance. But there is still so much thinking and work to be done regarding Web logs…balance might still be hard to achieve.
Al offers up this site as a place where we might start collecting our eBN content. Not sure exactly how this differs from a Web log aside from it seems open to everyone to contribute and edit. My brain is bumping up against the openness of it. If anyone wants to set me straight, please feel free.
What initially seemed like a simplistic extension of a bulletin board/blog/web page is revealing itself as a truly democratic, collaborative tool (traits most desired in learning).
Which is enough to make me look a little harder…
I’ve loved Negroponte ever since Being Digital. Does any of this “resonate?”
Innovation is inefficient. More often than not, it is undisciplined, contrarian, and iconoclastic; and it nourishes itself with confusion and contradiction. In short, being innovative flies in the face of what almost all parents want for their children, most CEOs want for their companies, and heads of states want for their countries. And innovative people are a pain in the ass…
So what makes innovation happen, and just where do new ideas come from? The basic answers-providing a good educational system, encouraging different viewpoints, and fostering collaboration-may not be surprising…
Our biggest challenge in stimulating a creative culture is finding ways to encourage multiple points of views…
Two additional ingredients are needed to cultivate new ideas. Both have to do with maximizing serendipity. First, we need to encourage risk… The second ingredient is encouragement for openness and idea sharing-another banality nearly impossible to achieve. …
A key to ensuring a stream of big ideas is accepting these messy truths about the origin of ideas and continuing to reward innovation and celebrate emerging technologies.
This is what I find so cool and so motivating about this process, being a pain in the ass, collaborating with people from different realities, and the openness of our work. Or, as Pat so eloquently put it…”We’re humble enough to recognize that we don’t have any idea yet what this technology means for teaching and learning, and professionally committed and generous enough to try to puzzle it out in public, temporarily putting to the side some of our more personal digital goals and creativity.” On…on!
Joe points to New Feinstein H.S. in Providence as an example of community building a la Web log, or is it Wiki (ZWiki?) since they’re running their site using Plone which, as far as I can tell, runs on top of Zope. And then I was looking at Bloxsom, which says it can be up and running on just about any OS in under 15 minutes (or your money back…it’s free.) And if you haven’t done so lately, check out the latest list of tools. I swear, my head is spinning. Can I make a request that at Edublogvention we do some talking about CMSs and CMFs and Wiki’s and all that stuff? Somewhere out there, I just get this feeling a better app awaits, but at this rate, I can’t imagine me being the one to find it.
(Via Jenny) From the American Press Institute, more on the RSS movement:
It’s emergent. RSS feeds and news aggregators are today what Web browsers were in 1996. It’s a new publishing platform, and it’s already the de-facto format used by the Web’s early adopters. It’s effortless. Any database-publishing system that can output Web pages can output RSS feeds. No staff time beyond creating a basic template equals very little expense. It’s migrating. RSS feeds now find their way onto Web pages and news aggregators. Apple’s new calendar application, iCal, allows users to syndicate events-ranging from personal get-togethers to DVD release dates and sporting events. Headlines are not far behind. It’s multi-platform. News aggregators are a much better fit for low-bandwidth browsers on mobile phones, PDAs and tablets. It’s the Classifieds, stupid. Most of the RSS community is focused on content. That’s great; so was the early Web. But feeding classified ads to aggregators is the next obvious step, and will prove to be hugely profitable for newspapers-or whoever decides to do it first. Fear Factor. Let’s face it: Fear is why most newspapers first went online-afraid Microsoft, AOL or Joe Blow was going to steal market share. Not having your content available in a medium that is growing in popularity rather than waning may not have immediate ROI, but the long-term prognosis for such ignorance is death.
I’ve been thinking more and more about this and my brain just explodes with the potential. I am seriously starting to wonder if there is any reason to use paper any longer. We can read on screen, we can write on screen, we can take notes on screen, we can share and transmit information on screen…think about the potential to include MANY other audiences into the educational process using RSS. Parents, guidance counselors, mentors, friends, siblings and distant relatives, anyone with a nurturing interest in a student and his or her education could easily participate in some structured way, whether as audience or as collaborator in some form. I’m not saying we set loose the hounds here, but with some thoughtful planning…whew.
How has Google changed the world? Well if you want to get a hint of the potential, check out this example of being caught in the act. Those naughty Republicans have been spewing their pro tax cut baloney by sending the exact same letter to dozens of newspapers across the country all with different authors’ names. (The English teacher thinks somewhere in here is a relevant lesson on plagiarism…) How cool is that? A little detective-like thinking and an Internet connection can expose all sorts of interesting things these days… (via Dan Gillmor)
(Link via Jenny) I’ve been playing around with my new Acer tablet PC for about a week now and it’s pretty incredible in terms of handwriting recognition and portability. Now comes this DesXcape thingy from Philips which looks like basically a tablet PC that you can dock and use as a desktop. What a very cool idea. I really like the tablet concept in general, and some of the supervisors who I have shown are chomping at the bit to try one out as they could WRITE notes during observations, translate them into text and have most of their work done by the time they leave the room. Student use has some interesting potentials too.
What about this vision…My journalism students settle down after the bell rings and take out their tablets and fire them up. I give them five or ten minutes to do some freewriting which they then post to their Web logs using the built in 802.11b LAN. When they’re done, we spend some time talking about feature leads, and they check their news aggregators for some samples that I “sent” them earlier and have projected on screen via LCD. They do some quick edit and response using the stylus, and post to their Web logs. One click and those posts are aggegated into my computer, and I open a few at random that we discuss together on screen. I ask them to take a few minutes to search for more feature lead examples from today’s papers online. They post, I aggregate, we talk. Finally, I upload a fact sheet from which they write their own leads and post to their Web logs/notebooks/portfolios which I again collect and read in my own Web log…and so it goes. Sheesh…
Laptops are one thing, but just from a tap, tap, tap standpoint, they can be distracting. Think about creating quiet text and graphics all at once and then just clicking a button…