Monday, June 6, 2011

921-Session 3

So there may still be some skepticism in some of you about the practicality and positive uses of this technology. After all, it does seem like every time we hear or read about blogs and children from the news media--- they have a negative connotation. Briefly skim this report published by Nielsen. I am sure that you will be convinced that blogs are not a passing fad. You can't fake these numbers (and its 4 years old). That's probably a reality check for those of you that are just getting familiar with blogs.

Some of you have already begun creating your own blogs (As they are posted I'll place links to them in the left-hand margin).

A few semesters ago, John jumped right in and began practicing with creative headlines and sidebars, as well as with emailing his posts to his blog. Check it out.

I'm placing links to all the course participants' blogs as they come in on the left. Check them out, as well as some of the past participants' blogs and give them a comment or two. It'll be good practice.

Session 3 is now uploaded and accessible, (if you are having trouble use this as a back-up and just do a search for edc921), but before you do that I want to introduce you to a simple tool to help you monitor both my blog postings and the comments from your fellow participants.

Please visit:

This link will visually walk you through the steps to set up a Bloglines account. Its primary purpose is to deliver to you every new blog posting by me and every new comment by your fellow participants. It has a lot of bells and whistles, but don't get distracted by them. Follow the basic instructions and it shouldn't take you too long. If you are interested in reading the comments and reflections from previous semesters then you may find them here:
and last summer's are here.

Spring '10 comments here.

Additionally, I'd like you to watch this tutorial. It is on 'Social Bookmarking.' We are all familiar with the ability to save favorite websites in our "Favorites" folder, but what if you had the ability to see other edc921 participants' favorites? What if you could benefit from the greatest sites found by other teachers? What if you could access their favorites, as well as your own, from any Internet connected computer? Check out this tutorial and sign up for an account, (optional) and help us by 'tagging' all the great sites you find with an 'edc921' label. If you are apprehensive, visit and do a search for 'edc920' and you'll find all the websites used from that course. I haven't started tagging for this course, but maybe we could do it together.

Pace yourself this week. Some weeks will be easier than others---this will not be one of those. There is a lot to go over, so don't put it all off until the weekend, and don't forget to visit your fellow participants' new blogs. All addresses should be posted under S2. And don't forget, I'm also creating a links to each one in the left hand margin.

Enjoy and have fun!


Mary said...

I've found social bookmarking very useful. I have had a delicious account for a couple of years now. Its nice to be able to switch from one computer to another and have your bookmarks travel with you where ever you go. There was a rumor that delicious was going to disappear so I switched everything over to diigo, but I never really spent enough time with it to completely make the change. I did however,find another site that I love. Take a look at It allows you to turn your bookmarks into icons. Great for those of us that are visual organizers.

I've created a great symbaloo page with all kinds of web 2.0 links for my teachers & students to use. I'd like to be able to post the link here so you can see it. unfortunately, I am still trying to figure out how to make my symbaloo page public without giving my administrative rites along with it. Once I figure that out I'll post a link from my library website and if timely, post to this blog as well.

Mary said...

Over the past couple of months I've become a "Google" consumer. I use gmail, Google docs and now blogger. I found that Internet Explorer does not always "play" well with Google products, so about 2 weeks ago I started using Google Chrome instead of IE.

I just realized that Symbaloo works seamlessly with Google chrome. It automatically organised existing favorites and added a page for my delicious bookmarks. Too cool!

Jacque said...

I find social bookmarking to be very useful when searching for esoteric topics. I find my results are already limited to sites that others have found useful, weeding out most of the search engine "clutter".

I've never been an avid personal user of delicious, although I do use Google bookmarks. I like that my bookmarks are accessible from anywhere, but I it doesn't have the extensive tools that delicious incorporates so well. It works for me because everything else I use is pretty much owned by google as well.

The Pew Internet study on cell phone use and texting by teens wasn't surprising at all to me. I don't own a landline phone. My phone call use is pretty much only for texting or reading email. I rarely make phone calls and even more rarely answer them. Since I'm a few decades away from my teen years, I can only assume that the trend of more texting and less talking is even more extreme for them.

Jacque said...

I noticed quite a few of the Best Edublogs were Wordpress sites. Does anyone use Wordpress? How do you feel it measures up against sites like blogger?

What struck me most about the blogs was the balance between text and images used on many of the more recent sites. Text was short and sweet and well supported by either graphics or video to engage readers.

Jacque said...

Adsense is disturbingly accurate in picking ads that closely relate to topics on blogs/websites. Adsense is just one way that blogs have become more commercial. Many "mommy" blogs feature and promote products that they receive for testing from the manufacturer.

Jacque said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jacque said...

The session 3 presentation and the readings this week relating to teen generated content both pointed out that while teens are active on these sites (Facebook, etc.) they don't view their participation as engaging in an online community, simply as an extension of their everyday lives. Facebook and Myspace are essentially blogging tools that students don't even realize they are using.

Mary said...

I jumped into the blog assignment with little effort and not much thought. I created my blogger account because that was the service David uses for class. As I look at other blog samples and think about the way I read and write, I find some aspects of blogger useful and others very cumbersome. I like being able to show the different blogs I'm following on my dashboard. I love getting the notice and blog in my email. However, I find it rather annoying that when I want to respond to someone's comment I add my comment and it is posted to the bottom of the queue. Responses are not connected to the original comment as a continuing thread. Following conversations is very jumpy and disorganized.

As Jacque noted, some of the award winning blogs are Wordpress. I also liked the friendliness of David Warlick's Blogmeister service. I think I'm leaning towards though. I like this principal’s blog shown in the session 2 presentation . It looks smart and flexible, almost like an interactive webpage. So many blog services, so many blogs, so little time...

On another note, I signed up for Bloglines. I'm not sure I like it. It seems so bland and requires "effort". Is it because I don't know how to customize and add features yet? I wonder if can serve the same purpose. If so, I think it might give added value. Does anyone else have other ideas or thoughts on this?

Dairy Queen said...

I have used Delicious for many years and have enjoyed it. I have tried to use the social part of bookmarking with students and teachers for research projects to direct them to particular sites but so few knew about it that I gave up. I might have to try it again.

Mary, I did the same thing when I heard Yahoo was selling Delicious, I went to Diigo but haven't used it much. I'm glad Delicious is staying around. I'll check out symbaloo.

Jacques, I have used Wordpress but I haven't used it in a long time. I remember liking it and finding it easy to use when I used it.

MigSteele said...

S3 - I too have used delicious for a few years, and clearly am in good company. I will say that like so many web 2.0 tools I recognize that I d o not use the service to the fullest capacity. It is really just my repository for links and my tagging efforts are pretty weak. I would like to expand my usage and get more out of it.

@Jacque - I have used both blogger and wordpress and have made the same observations about wordpress' popularity and usability ratings. I am committed to blogging wordpress for this class to force myself to use it and hopefully become more adept at the range of features that outpace blogger.

@Mary - I haven't checked out Symbaloo but with on your recommendation. I too think of myself as a Google consumer - Google reader is my most important time management tool.

Ms. Steele said...

HI folks

I just posted using my other gmail account username Migsteele.

Sorry to confuse.

Erika Steele
aka Migsteele

Lori said...

S3 - After reading the article by Nielsen, Dave is right; those numbers are really hard to argue with! It’s almost odd to read numbers that have increased 183% and 226%! It are these numbers that solidify in my mind, that the internet and blogs are not just a passing fad, but that they are here to stay and will become even more mainstream in the future. On a side note, the figures in The Top 10 Advertisers by Estimated Spending make me a little sick to my stomach. These numbers are so grandiose that they are also hard to fathom. The economy (school systems, social assistance programs, etc) would flourish with even a fraction of one of these numbers.

I like to think that I am up on all of the technology, and maybe it’s because I’m from Canada, but I had never heard of Delicious before this course! I just created an account and imported my favorites from my school computer! It seems fairly simple to use, but it is going to take some playing around with to fully understand all of the benefits! As Mary said in her first post, it’s nice to have your favorites where ever you go, and since I am switching schools this next year, this is the PERFECT tool for me! Mary also mentioned symbaloo in her blog, which I have also never heard of. I checked it out and I love the way it looks! I like the idea of using this tool in the classroom for my students. Very neat!

I also found the study on teens and cell phone use and texting very interesting. I wasn’t surprised to see that land line use is down, but the fact that email and social networking sites are that much lower than texting is surprising! I thought all kids did was go home and sit on Facebook! Turns out they leave school and text all night! I was also surprised by the difference in time teens spend on Facebook and MySpace (as mentioned in the article “"Teens Who Visit Both MySpace and Facebook”. I just did a quick poll of my class, and it only one student out of 30 uses MySpace and the rest use Facebook. Maybe again it’s that Canadian thing??

Here are my I wonder statements for the session:

I wonder how I am ever going to keep up with the changing technology?

I wonder how I can effectively implement something like Symbaloo into my ELA classes next year?

I wonder if Facebook and MySpace are the largest social networking sites that we will ever have, or will someone create something even larger in the future?

I wonder if social networking sites like Facebook are just a fad?

Take care everyone,


Eileen said...

S3: After reviewing this week's session, I have very similar thoughts to Lori's in that I too could not get over the staggering growth rates in the social networking sites. In thinking about it though, it isn't surprising considering not only 12-17 year old use of these sites, but how many people my age have flocked to Facebook as well. What potential here for advertising and learning that cannot be ignored.

I was not as surprised that texting was more popular than anything else in the same age bracket mentioned above, as I have a 13 year old daughter who loves to text as well. It's interesting though, as I recently took a poll on my wiki site of my middle school students about using their cell phones in school for educational purposes and oddly enough they were against it. They thought that there was too much potential for misuse and distractions and they felt overall that the cells should be kept away. I found that very interesting.

I loved Jen's ideas for her blog as a possible science warm-up. I currently use a classroom wiki and have found it to be the greatest thing since sliced bread.

I loved the 2010 Edublog winner for "Best Class Blog". It happened to be a middle school technology blog which is what I am trying to create here or something similar. It was a great resource to get ideas.

Someone also mentioned that they had 80 students and was a little worried about the monitoring piece of blogging as am I with 180 students every 2 days. Although, one way to cut that number is not to do the blogging with every class and just stick to my 8th graders to start.

I love the idea that David Warlick, from Blogmeister once again stated how much more motivated and engaged the students are when not only using technology, but using their voice with the outside world. I would love to be a part of that.

Again, there is so much to take in and I wondered the following this week. Should I become a certified google teacher? I wonder what that entails?


Dairy Queen said...

I started an account on Bloglines and find it interesting but a little overwhelming at a quick glance. I’m confused about it – it is an aggregator of blogs? I have an rss feed on my google account but I have a feeling the two are slightly different? I guess those are some of my “I wonder” questions.

I actually want to say “ditto” to Jacques’s I wonder questions, especially about encouraging participation in a blog in an ungraded environment such as the library. Also, if blogs are blocked in your school as they are in mine, how do you get administrative buyin. I have asked for my blog to be unblocked but the way they did it or the program they used took all the bells and whistles out of my blog and it was difficult to use. (This is the blog This was my old blog that I used with my Teen Book Club. I now use the one you see on Dave’s blog page for this class. I have another blog that I would like kids to have access to if they wanted it but again the darn blocking in school. (Here is that address ) I have been involved in the professional development committee, I’ve taught PD classes, and have continually advocated that we unblock blogs to no avail.

From the readings on the syllabus for Session 3, I was struck by the statistics in the Pew report (the link didn’t work, by the way, but I searched for it). The data for teens on social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace is kind of old and 55% of teens were on those sites; the survey was conducted in 2006. So I wonder how much use has gone up. One very interesting statistic was that older girls were the most avid users. I wonder if this has changed in 4-5 years. The report also noted that Myspace dominated. I suspect this is no longer true.

Karen said...

S3: This is the first time that I have heard of social bookmarking...I kinda feel like I have been living under a rock because I have never heard of it. I have frequently wondering if there was someway that I could access my bookmarks from home when at school and school from home. Needless to say that I was trilled when I watched the youtube clip showing how to use and I have already gone there to experiment with it.

Once I get familiar with this site I can see it being something that I will use in the classroom. I think it would be a great way for students to research useful websites at home and then use them at school or a great way for students working in a group to communicate when at home.

I have to say that I was not surprised with the statistics given during this week’s readings and videos about the number of students who use the internet and some sort of social networking. This has become ingrained in their everyday lives and it is now just a part of them. In the PowerPoint when Dave mentioned that his students didn't associate writing with texting/online writing seems to illustrate this quite well. Students think that they have to think hard about writing when really they are stringing ideas together everyday to form thought and ideas...I think that would be writing! :)

Within the last 3 years my school district has set up a website where teachers can create discussion boards and share resources. I have to say this has come in handy numerous times. Along with this resource for teachers, it has also given teachers the ability to created virtual classrooms to use with each of their classes. Each teacher is able to customize it depending what type of things you would want to use it for. Thankfully the district has also provided many PD sessions to teach teachers how to set a virtual classroom up and how to use it effectively.

I thought the Eileen's comment on people who are not school aged using Facebook was very true. It seems that everyone is getting "hooked" with Facebook, even those who themselves say that are not tech-savvy. This makes me think that social sites like Facebook aren't a fad but are just becoming part of our daily lives as a way to stay in touch with both close and far-away friends and family. Actually my 80 year-old great-uncle is a frequent Facebooker!

Finally, after this week:

I also wonder if I can keep up with the changing technology?

I wonder if blogging is a way to reach struggling writers and uninterested writers?

I wonder if the world is becoming dependent on sites like Facebook?

Jennifer Hawkins said...

I just signed up for Bloglines. Interested in trying it out to see if it can help me keep up with my blog roll. Interested to see if it will help if I decide to have my students individually create blogs next year.
I've used social bookmarking before as a way to communicate with other educators and share resources. The site that I used primarily was Diigo, but I have heard good things about Del-icio-us.

Sonja said...

The lead to the Edublog Awards has been worth it for me to jump into this course. I was blown away by examples that I saw. I first created a Wordpress account in 2006 and it sat untouched by me for quite a while. Then I found Blogger a little bit more approachable. I thought I was doing pretty well until I saw the winners of the annual awards.

Also, I'm curious about the reference to Blogger's AdSense connected to blogs for students. I haven't explored it, but I now want to know how school district would view the commercialization of my blog if I added AdSense. Does anyone work in a school district that would ban such a widget? This issue also made me think of the stink among school librarians about the selling of items in Scholastic bookfairs that had little to do with books. If Dave only made six dollars and some change, I'm not sure what the fuss would be about.

One last note, I do appreciate the inclusion of the Duck Diaries. I'm guiding our elementary librarians to the potential of blogs. One of them is more than resistant to Web 2.0 on that level. This blog has me a little more at ease about suitability of blogs to young users.

Go Mavs. My city is immerse in NBA championship celebration. I'll have to blog about that!