Posted by: lindapemik | October 11, 2010

More tools for the newbies toolbox

 For those of you who are like me–new to the world of social media and on-line tools I want to tell you about what I have learned in the  last week. I am in the process of acquainting myself with several “social” sites:   Delicious, Scribd and Twitter.

Delicious is a social bookmarking service run by Yahoo. You have to sign up for a Yahoo account but it is free. The beauty of Delicious is that you can tag, save, manage and share web pages that you like all from one place and you can do this from any computer that you happen to be working on. So if like me you do a lot of on-line research, move around a lot and end up using other people’s computers, you still can access all of your bookmarks from anywhere. I am definitely going to spend some time familiarizing myself with all that Delicious has to offer.

I also spent some time on Scribd. This is a social publishing site that can be linked to Facebook. Although the vision of Scribd is to “liberate the written word” and you can read the documents online, if you want to download and save the document (as I did), you have to pay a small fee. It was $ 9.00 USD for a one month service. Since there is some connection in my brain that requires me to print and scribble on academic papers in order to make sense of what I am reading I think the cost is worth it. If I don’t interact in a physical way with information it doesn’t stick to the Velcro of my brain. Reminds me of the discussion that has been going on in our class blogs regarding the possibility that online discussions such as “blogs and forums, then, can have that tendency to cause people to move on before subjects have been more fully engaged”. For me reading online inhibits my ability to engage with the information. This kind of reading seems to require a different kind of processing.

The third tool that I am starting to familiarize myself with is Twitter. The jury’s still out on this one. I can see how it could be useful tool for following interesting people in your field, as people tweet all kinds of information about interesting books, websites, conferences, contacts etc. The key to making it work for you might lie in selecting who you want to follow. My first impression is that I am getting way too much information for me to handle  right now. Perhaps it was not a good idea for me to copy Alec Couros’ followers list. Although tweets are 140 words or less by the time I read and respond to the 30 or so daily emails that I have to deal with at work, then check my personal mail at Gmail, check my Google reader account for new posts and news, my brain just can’t take anymore digital information. Like any new tool I expect it will take more time for me to decide just how useful Twitter is to me. I have noticed some interesting on-line posts about using Twitter in the classroom and even for storytelling. I definitely want to explore this concept. If anyone knows of good sites for this please let me know.

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Responses

  1. You touched on a very important point about interaction. “If I don’t interact in a physical way with information it doesn’t stick to the Velcro of my brain.” We spend a lot of time (rightfully so) focusing on social interactions as learning opportunities, but there is also value in “interacting” with content. We, as teachers, can help our students to recognize how they best learn from content interaction, how that might differ in an online environment, and how it can be supported or enhanced by social interaction.

    Great quote!

    P.S. Too bad we can’t bottle and sell that velcro. 😉

  2. Funny you should mention printing things out to mark them up properly. I do that too.

    Many, many years ago I couldn’t compose on a typewriter. I wrote on pads in longhand. When PC’s came in, even with instant editing, I still spent many years writing things out before typing them in. It took a long time to compose on a computer. Now that seems quaint.

    Now if it’s important, I print it out and mark it up. Then it’s right there when I write a post or analysis. I’m intrigued by Diigo’s annotation idea, the concept that several people can markup the same document. I wonder about annotating on a computer. If I do it, it’s harder to access, because I have to mouse over each annotation individually, then switch back and forth to the document I now compose (instead of writing out longhand) on the computer screen.

    I wonder whether someday I will be noting how quaint it was to take my notes on paper, sitting there among my quad-screens?

    • There are so many great tools out there for educators to use.

      I agree that social bookmarking sites are helpful if you use multiple computers. I started out using delicious but had to switch to diigo so I could access it at school. For some reason delicous is blocked but diigo is not. This year, I have my students using Diigo for their current events in business law. They select their article and then summarize it and assign it some key words. So far, it is well received. It is my hope that by using it in school, they will see the benefit of the site and use it outside my classroom.

      As far as Twitter goes, I too can be overwhelmed by it. I felt really bad when I would miss stuff that is shared because the people I follow share such awesome resources and ideas. I have come to terms with the fact that I can’t see it all after all, I am a full time teacher, single mom of two teenagers, and in need to some sort of personal life. I now always look at Twitter over breakfast (which I enjoy by myself) and at some point in the evening. If I get any time during the day, I may sneak a peak. I use Tweetdeck and leave my cursor just below the top of the all friends column. This gives me the chance to sort of pick up where I left off.

      My interactions with educator’s around the world has really given me new enthusiasm for teaching and a world of new ideas. People are willing to share so much information.

      Good luck with finding a system that works. Somehow, we seem to find a way to manage the information we receive. I am enjoying my role in ECI831 and hope to be able to share more of the information from this medium at school as the year moves along.

  3. Hi there.

    My favourites are delicious and twitter. I use the first to share my e-portfolio and the second to microblog. I also use Diigo for bookmarking. Great choices.

    Leonor Santos

  4. Hi there. I wanted to mention that http://www.diigo.com is a social bookmarking tool much like delicious, but I find that it is less “busy” so I use it much more. In fact my bookmarks are getting ridiculous, but its awesome to be able to search through them all when I need to. I also make folders to keep things in for each of my classes.

    Hang in there with Twitter. It is the #1 tool that I can’t live without as far as professional development goes. There are so many knowledgeable people it can definitely be info overload. If you havent already, I really recommend using Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. They make managing the information a bit easier. Good luck!

  5. Thanks for pointing out Scribd. I have not been using it – so many applications are available! I think it can fit into what I am doing now, so I will play around with it. I use Chrome and I added a diigo extension to the tool bar. I like it very much. One thing it does is update my Delicious account each time I add something to Diigo. Twitter is a critical tool for us right now. Give it a chance and I think you will be amazed by its impact on your professional development.

  6. Thanks for this post, Linda. Well done.

    I didn’t actually know Scribd went to a pay model (although I’ve used it for years). I’ve never printed or saved anything out, only uploaded.

    Thanks for all of the information, here. Nicely composed post.

  7. Hey, Linda. Great tools you’ve set ip. For exploration. I’d say that it takes some time for you to grasp the dynamics in Twitter, but stick to it. In no time you will see it’s networking potential and how much you can learn from it. I’ve been collecting some Twitter links and resources at http://twittering.wikispaces.com

    As for delicious, I love it, but I have been totally sold to Diigo. Have you heard of it?

  8. Linda,

    You are smart to start with just a few social media tools. And the three you selected and learned about have three completely different purposes.

    You asked for some resources to learn more about Twitter in the classroom. Here’s a link to resources for Twitter and Education – http://drzreflects.blogspot.com/2009/11/6-resources-for-using-twitter-in.html

    I hope you find it helpful.

    Karen

  9. Linda,
    I felt the same way about Twitter, and I know the pain that you go through with regards to all of the communications channels we have to manage. For me though Twitter as been a bit of a blessing. I have to manage around 50 projects in different higher education institutions, when I first started I used to get regular emailed reports about them once a month (which was a big admin overhead). Now, through the use of blogs and twitter a lot of my projects give me a weekly tweet. e.g Project OK, on budget, need to discuss post @ xxxxxxxxx sometime. Can you approve workpackage 3 and confirm dates 4 final reporting. New researcher now appointed. (genuine tweet from one of my projects last week). I was able to respond with more brevity than I would in an email, and without breaking stride from my work by opening outlook (I use tweetdeck and messages and mentions pop-up and allow responses).

    I think over the last two years of using twitter in this way my email traffic as reduced significantly. BUT, the initial pain was difficult.

  10. Hey Lisa;

    I too find the amount of information you can get from twitter can be very time consuming. I initially had all the tweets going to my blackberry but quickly turned that off as my phone was going to make me crazy. I understand completely about wanting to have something to scribble notes on, you should see the pad I keep beside the computer during the Elluminate sessions. Insightful post, keep them coming.

    Mike

  11. I also prefer to print documents and scribble on them in the margins. I know it’s not paper-friendly but it works for me! If I can’t physically interact with the information, then it doesn’t stay in my brain.


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