Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Video recorders in the classroom

This is an interesting article I've just come across with in a digital newsletter. Lots of ideas worth coming back to during the summer holidays.
Video recorders in the classroom

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Tagging in Action at ITValley10: Reflections after today’s Elluminate session

I could only join today’s live session at Elluminate for the last half hour. Little as I heard (I haven't listened to the recording yet), it has prompted me to reflect on why, how, where - and perhaps, also for whom - I tag. Also, on how and why I could use this with my students.

I started tagging as a way to keep track of all the interesting information, pages, blogs, tools, etc that I encountered as I started my online journey. My very first experience with tagging goes back to my acquaintance with Delicious. As many others have said, those early tags were perhaps not very appropriate but, thanks to Rita Zeinstejer’s advice, I learned early on that, as far as tagging is concerned, “the more the merrier”, meaning that when you use a wide variety of tags, it’s much easier to find what you need later on. As I became more familiar with Delicious, I learned that it offers the possibility of creating groups. This is a great feature to work collaboratively with colleagues or simply to see what the people in your network, those whose judgement you trust, consider worth bookmarking. More recently, I joined Diigo, which, I must confess, I do not use as frequently as Delicious. However, I find it particularly useful in that, apart from all the features it shares with Delicious, it sends you updates of what the people in your network are bookmarking. I’m not sure Delicious offers this feature (I have to revise the settings, I guess)

Presently, I’m fascinated with a couple of applications, Twibes and TweetDeck, which have given me a new perspective on the power of tagging. Twibes has helped me sort out in groups the myriad of tweets that pop up on my Twitter homepage. Among other interesting features, it includes RSS for the tweets and for the members, as well as groups and people search. TweetDeck allows you to manage your Twitter lists, sort your information into columns and also search for lists. All of these of course require tagging. Another of my recent finds, is how to tag pictures in Flickr, though I’m not so sure I’ve mastered it yet - I tagged a picture in Flickr but I still can’t see it on Spezify (search engine that displays the results in the form of images and newspaper headlines) or Taggalaxy (which does the same with pictures)

So, how and why could I use tagging with my students? Basically, in the same way and for the same reasons I am using it: to search, bookmark, organize and get back to content, to network and connect, to work collaboratively. As Vance pointed out in the Elluminate session, it can be used to direct students to specific content. With the information overload on the web, it is necessary, especially when working with young learners, to provide some kind of guidance and selection. Apart from looking for content utilizing certain tags, students can tag any content they create and work collaboratively in this way. This could be accompanied with the creation of a backchannel for communication on Twibes.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Comment on David Weinberger and Andrew Keen's debate

In truth, these are just notes taken while listening to David Weinberger and Andrew Keen debating Weinberger's thesis in "All Things Miscellaneous"

D. Weinberger’s argument:
The fundamental web challenge is how to organize information, how to find what matters to us.
He contrasts physical order with digital order:

Andrew Keen’s criticism
The main issue at stake: the value of authority in a connected world.
He views digital change as a threat:
Modernity provided mass society with mass access to culture, information, education, literacy.
The digital revolution might return us to the Middle Ages: increasing hierarchy, increasing division between rich and poor, between media literates and those who are not. He foresees the emergence of a digital aristocracy - the elite of the Middle Ages who lost touch of their physical community- resulting in more boundaries, more fragmentation and less conversation, in oligarchy rather than democracy.
He worries about scarceness of talent, information and education on the grounds that when you do away with the gatekeepers of mainstream media, you’re doing away with the access to information and education for the masses.

My impression:
I don’t see much point in Keen’s arguments:
He talks about declining standards of content in the web as if this were not also a problem in mainstream media, denying the presence of talent among the multiplicity of voices emerging in the web. Maybe is this what he fears? These days, as never before, ordinary people as well as experts can find a channel of expression. Whether what they say is valuable or not, is for people themselves to decide. And this seems to be another issue with Keen: the undermining of authority and power. His position strikes me as paternalistic and authoritarian: only those in power can decide what and how much people should have access to. Or could it be that he's just playing the devil's advocate, as Hanna Khamis, one of my partners at EVO multiliteracies, has suggested?

Thursday, 21 January 2010

e-Portfolios, aggregation, tagging and RSS

So far, these have been quite elusive concepts to me. I had a vague idea of what they were and how they worked, but could definitely not put that into words. Vance's post on this topic on the Multiliteracies YG has clarified this and I would like to quote him here (hope this is OK)

Vance says:

In our course on Multiliteracies for Social Networking and Collaborative Learning environments, we intend to get into the concept of e-Portfolios, the idea being that anyone undertaking a learning journey can record and document the stages of that journey at a central hub with links to the associated documents.It's a portfolio in the sense that it can be viewed as a collection of documents in one container, but in fact what appears to be the container is a page linking to documents that could in fact be anywhere. The central page is where you send people if you want them to see what you have learned or accomplished. This could also be seen as a kind of CV professionally, or as an assessment tool at the end of a course of study for students.

Regarding aggregation, you can think of RSS and tagging on one side and aggregation as being the other side of the same coin. RSS is code that announces when a content on a site has been updated. Tags are keywords millions of users give to that content when they either produce or see it (because of it's grass roots nature, a tagging system is called a folksonomy).

Aggregators are tools that do two things. They read RSS code (when they have been given the URL of that code, or subscribed to it). And they search places where tags are likely to be found and they return links to content having the tags requested.

So aggregation is a kind of search that works off METAdata; that is code or tags or script associated with content, not the content itself. Google on the other hand searches actual content.