Thing 23: Where do we go from here?

As I look back over this course, there have been indicators, not only that the world is changing for our students, but that the world has changed for our students.  As teachers, not only do we need to consider and address these changes, we need to embrace these technologies in ways that are effective in meeting our obligations as both teachers and guides.  Although the fundamentals of teaching will remain paramount to our profession as we venture on to Web 2.0 and beyond, our role as guide will be equally important to our students’ success.

I think back to an early blog post of mine, Thing 5, in which I refer to a high school student’s post.  In Innovate or Die, Anthony Chivetta throws down the gauntlet to challenge his teachers to both accept and embrace the social network that already exists.  Whether we pick up that glove and take up this challenge will determine how our students become responsible and effective users of tools that they already employ.

As far as employing the Web 2.0 tools to which I have been introduced through this course, I have already begun.  Using Delicious has revolutionized the way I approach bookmarking and solved a dilemma for me.  I intend to rely more heavily on Firefox as my Web browser, however for several years I’ve been bookmarking within Safari.  With Delicious it doesn’t matter which browser I select;  with any browser or any computer, my bookmarks are a couple of clicks away.  Not only my bookmarks, the tagged bookmarks of countless colleagues are also at my fingertips.

I have also used Flickr to populate several of my Pre-First Library Links lessons with superb photographs of subjects as diverse as castles of Germany and animals of the Serengeti.  Flickr, combined with Creative Commons, provides teachers and students alike with the means to legally access, contribute to, and use a phenomenal resource.

As promising as all of the Web 2.0 tools are, I feel that I must close with a note of caution when it comes to trusting online sites with anything that you consider important or irreplaceable.  Always back up and store such items yourself.  Although I did not loose any files associated with AOL’s Hometown, please read the irate responses of those who did.

Thing 22: Social Networking in Education? You Bet!

As with so many of the Web 2.0 vehicles, Classroom 2.0 offers possibilities for peer to peer, teacher/student and other forms of collaboration.  Again, that is the point.  However, once the forum category has been selected, the ability to sort these categories into further sub- categories is limited to three options:  “Latest Activity,” “Newest Discussions, ” and ” Most Popular.”  Nonetheless, once I had chosen “Book Discussions” from the category page, I did find several discussions to be of interest to me. In fact, the discussion, “Book Recommendations for Gifted Readers” prompted me to add several titles to my online wish list on Titlewave.  I did find the tag options to be a good way to search for specific types of forums.  I was surprised to learn that there was no tag for “books.”

Once the demands of the 23 Things course have been met, I hope to join discussions (I know I should be doing that now.) or create my own.  Maybe I’ll even create my own social network through Ning.  Yeah, maybe…

Thing 7c: Google Reader Redux

One of the most enjoyable tasks that my work as a librarian entails is ordering books for our library.  I consult several venerable journals and read a lot of children’s books.  What a pleasure it has been to add PlanetEsme, Esme Raji Codell’s excellent blog, to my list of sources for book recommendations!  But more than just book reviews the blog offers Esme’s occasional personal commentary.  On a recent post, following the reviews of several Thanksgiving titles, she included a formidable list of the people and things for which she is thankful.  It is this kind of insight that blogs provide, along with the ability to open a dialog, that distinguishes them from the old Web 1.0 way of using the Internet.

Thing 21- Create a Custom Start Page Using Pageflakes

As I have investigated the sample Pageflakes pages, I have found that their judicious use could be truly beneficial for keeping a group on the same page, literally!  Of course, this concept can work well in a classroom, grade level, special subject or school-wide environment.  In any of these groups, there are multiple possibilities:  homework assignments, links to germane Web sites and podcasts, a class calendar, reading lists, and many more.  A well designed Pageflake could become a central location for much of the information that would be necessary for the successful completion of assignments and other course work.  But more that serving as just a rubric for course work, the content should also be a vehicle to pique the interest of students and encourage them to further investigate the subject to be studied.  To achieve this level of interest, one must be careful not to fall into the trap of creating too many bells and whistles, which, rather than focusing a participant’s attention, could actually distract attention from the intended goal.  So, to successfully design an effective, interesting, and educational Pageflake, start with the end in mind:  “What is the goal of this page?”

Thing 20 – Online Office: Getting Started with Google Docs

Google Docs is extremely easy to use and intuitive in its design.  If you’ve worked with any of the Microsoft Office applications, then creating documents on Google Docs will be a breeze!  I created a list of information literacy terms and invited viewers to add their own terms.  There are many ways in which Google Docs could be employed to support our library program.  A spread sheet could be created on which students check off Georgia Book Award books, as they read them, until they reach number that qualifies them to vote.  A summer reading list could be posted for easy reference.  In a more collaborative use, teachers and students could update a new books wish list with their requests.

Thing 19: A Tale of Two Tubes – Video Sharing in the Classroom

One of my first You Tube finds could be a good tool for helping our fourth graders better understand Boolean operators.  It gives a dry, but easily understood, explanation of how to use various combinations of “and,” “or,” and “not” to define searches.  Then, I stumbled across a really useful set of research videos (Part 1, Part 1A, and Part II) from @ Your Library.  Using Sims characters they review how to use library resources.  These will serve as a great info lit review for our fifth graders.  Even though I have access to You Tube at school, I intend to use Zamzar to download videos that I will use regularly.  In doing so, I will continue to have access to them if they become unavailable on You Tube and also avoid possible problems with live video streaming.

When I decided to get instructions for the fine art of tying a bow tie, I was amazed by the large number of You Tube videos that there were on the subject.  After viewing several, I decided the best, for step by step instruction, was from Beau Ties, Ltd. of Vermont.  Conductor Evan Bennet demonstrates the proper method and makes it look easy.  Trust me, it’s not!

On a recent trip to Napa Valley, we stayed in Yountville, just around the corner from the French Laundry, a world renowned restaurant.  Although we ate at many fine Napa Valley restaurants during our stay, we were not able to get reservations at The French Laundry.  If you want to eat there, make your reservations well in advance.  So, I located a an interview with Thomas Keller, the owner.  In the video, the viewer is given a tour of the restaurant and many of his signature dishes are featured.  It is almost as good as eating there…not really, but interesting, nonetheless!

Of the many videos that I viewed on Teacher Tube, the one that I found to be useful was DISCOVER Information Literacy.  It is an excellent step by step method for conducting research.  Although it is geared for secondary and post secondary students, its message could be adapted for upper elementary students, as well.  I do hope that as more educators embark on the production of videos, production value will improve.  A viewing of Matthew Needleman’s “Film School for Video Podcasters” would be instructive.

Thing 17: Explore Podcasting

I just listened to the most delightful group of 3rd graders’ production of Ms. Edminson’s Weekly Podcast.  It is entitled Eagles’ Nest Radio Episode 1:  Take a BITE Out of Shark Facts. This is a well produced radio show, structured in four segments, with one student, Anna Catherine, acting as host and introducing other students for each segment.  In the first, “correspondent,” Chrisa, takes us to Poetry Paradise with an enticing review of Ogden Nash’s poem, “Sharks.”  In the next segment, Daisy invites us to swim in our own direction by discussing the high number of sharks (60 million) that are killed each year and encouraging listeners to take up the cause of saving sharks.  Next we join William in the “Vocabulary Vault.”  We know we are in the vault due to the creative, echoing sound effects.  While there, he explains what cartilage means to sharks and humans!  Finally, Carter reports during the “Did You Know” segment and informs us that sharks have been around for 400 million years.  Anna Catherine closes the show by inviting listeners to listen to a podcast interview with a shark expert, Mr. Woody Ward.  How could I resist?

This podcast provides ample evidence that podcasting can be used as an effective tool for learning.  These students had to research and know the subject well to produce this podcast.  They had to understand and create the scripts which will keep a listener’s interest and leave them wanting more.  Most importantly, their ownership of the project should give them a great sense of accomplishment, as it is shared, via podcast, with their peers.

As I explored the podcast directories, such as Education Podcast Network and Learn Out Loud, I found several podcasts that could be of value in an elementary setting.   One useful site for me, as a librarian, would be Nancy Keane’s Booktalks Quick and Simple Podcast, which could be used to create interest in books for our students, so I subscribed to it.  Although, from a pedagogical standpoint, many of these podcasts could be useful for teachers, I feel that the podcasts that will resonate with students, particularly elementary students, will be the ones that they produce themselves, like Ms. Edminson’s 3rd graders.

Thing 16: LibraryThing – Where Books Meet Web 2.0

What librarian, or other book lover, would not be enthusiastic about Library Thing?  Create you own catalog.  Organize your personal collection.  Use multiple search and social options to connect with people and books!  All for free!!  Sound to good to be true?  Well, no, except for the free part.  If you plan to catalog more than 200 books, it’ll cost you a one time fee of $25.00 for a lifetime membership.  This should be considered a bargain, because it allows the site to function free of sales pitches and other annoying intrusions.

Thing 15: Social Bookmarking with Delicious

A key feature of the bookmarking site, Delicious, is its social aspect.  Would it be Web 2.0 without interactivity?  Perhaps not.  Nonetheless, the ability to access and share the bookmarks of literally thousands of Internet users, with your same interests, provides you with a filter that few search engines can achieve.

I immediately found a need that this site could fulfill in my curriculum.  I teach a 4th grade unit on Web site evaluation in which students are given several different sites to evaluate.  Although I have saved these sites on my computer, I will feel much better knowing the this component of the lesson will be saved on Delicious under the tag, web_eval.  Apparently, I’m the first to use that tag.

So, I’m certain that uploading all of the bookmarks associated with my lesson plans will not only serve as secure off-site storage, but will also give me access to numerous sites that will relate to each lesson.  Once the sites related to my lessons are uploaded, students could be given my Delicious URL and click on the tag, web_eval, to conduct their Web site evaluations.

Delicious also solves a bookmarking conundrum for me.  As I have begun to use Firefox, I would like to make it my primary browser.  However, most of my bookmarks are associated with my Safari browser.  Once they are uploaded to Delicious, I will be able to easily access them while using Firefox.  That works!

Thing 7b: Google Reader Redux

An interesting facet of reading blogs is the international aspect of the flow of information.  There are no physical boundaries.  As long as you understand the language of the blogger, you can exchange information.  (Although, I’m certain that there are translation tools that I have yet to hear about.)

One of the blogs which I initially added to my Google Reader has always provided me with a post which draws me in and compels me to read more. (My criteria for going beyond skimming.)  It is called Hey Jude and is written by Judy O’Connell, a library and Web 2.0 specialist from Sydney, Australia.

Of particular interest is her recent post concerning the Plastic Logic E-Reader.  Embedded in the blog is a video by the CEO of Plastic Logic as he introduces the reader.  It is a flexible, light weight, legal pad-sized electronic reader.  In the video it is promoted as a excellent tool for business professionals to store enormous quantities of printed material and presentations, but there will also be educational and entertainment uses, no doubt.

As a librarian, who loves books for the aesthetic qualities they incorporate into the communication of ideas, these new means of communicating information, such as the E-Reader and Amazon’s Kindle, give me pause.  But I pause for only a moment, knowing full well that electronic communication is here and here to stay.  It encompasses not only these devices for storing and presenting ideas, but all of the many digital interactions across the globe that define Web 2.0.