Unit 7 – Where to from here?

Well, I did learn about a few tools that I may use a bit more – mainly for organizing information. But, maybe not, considering. That whole social side with Facebook and Twitter, well, no. Especially after the news that USA government has PRISM. All those assurances that we read about on all those “About” pages seem to be nothing but a pack of lies. Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook … they all caved and didn’t put up much of a fight to save our privacy. I am sure there will be rebuttals and counter-rebuttals, and we may never know the truth. And if everyone here is thinking it won’t happen here in good old Aussie – I recall  reading last year that the the Australian government was keeping records on its citizens, too. I have had my rant!

In the future, I will make the effort to explore the new things that come up and keep an eye on the Bright Ideas blog for the latest in all things educationally digital – or is that digitally educational?

I did feel pressured at times to keep up with the program, but i did enjoy it. I like to get out of the comfort zone from time to time. Keeps the brain cells ticking over.

I would encourage everyone to participate, especially if they are keen to keep up with the digital environment. Not too sure about the keeping up – more like just stay aware and hit the high points …  keeping up is a 36 hour-a-day job, I think.

My progress towards the end was slowed – and nearly stopped – by time constraints of a full-time job in a dynamic, busy library.

Sorry, but there is no little instructional screencast here (well, not yet), but below is my very brief, free, 35 second Animoto review of the course.

http://animoto.com/play/6U1Guu7gJP2V8kbZj7uLeA

Well, I hope that works!

It’s been fun, everyone.

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Changing Practice

I conveniently have an =18 (just barely) living with me. We have had little chats about safety online and how quickly things can get out of control. He is aware of (and tells me he practices) the rules – no personal information that will allow him to be tracked down, no flaming (is that term still used?), no pictures he wouldn’t want either his mother or his future employer to see. When he started on World of Warcraft a few years ago, I made sure he hadn’t lied about his age; he understood the reason and, in the end, I think he appreciated it. I made sure to tell him plenty of scare stories illustrating worst possible scenarios. And we watch enough crime shows together that use technology to find out all your secrets for him to think that anything he puts up is “private”.

He only uses Facebook and text messages to keep in touch with people. As far as I am aware, he has only 1 personae. My daughter, when she was younger, dabbled in the multiples but decided in the end that it was all too much effort. She also decided (after trying it out, I might add) that personal and work/school should be separate.

I think we should just take the bull by the horns and educate them with the tools they use. If anyone thinks their children are minding all the rules – they should hark back to the shenanigans they got up to and never told their parents about! I think that many parents don’t feel equipped to deal with some of the issues and try the wall approach. What does this leave our children exposed to when they suddenly don’t have the wall? If we give our kids responsibility based on their ability to handle it – increasing freedom over time – in their physical world/life, we should do the same with their on-line life. Heavily monitored when they are young, teaching them the rules and the whys and wherefores. Decreasing control as they exhibit good decision-making and maturity. If this is enforced at school as well, with stress on the tools that have the most ability to pose problems, by the time the average child hits adulthood, they should be well prepared to think before they act.

I think we should all remember that sometimes, no matter what you do, some children will set out to deliberately do all the wrong things. Wish this weren’t so, but it is.

REFLECTIONS

Obviously, working in a library, I do most tasks these days on a computer. It has been wonderfully freeing for accessing information instantly. It is possible to put together a range of “documents” with ease – font, images, size, color, effects, links. Information from trusted sources, opinions, discussions – all can be used to ponder, muse, reflect, respond. I think it has made it easier to learn – if you want to. Many prestigious universities offer courses you can audit. Anything new comes up, changes made to existing tools – can access it all right now – as it happens.

I think that, like everything else, the impact on us is all in how it is used/abused. (Twitter – fun … until someone uses it ruin your life) Long-distance communications is a snap, collaboration across the world, sharing … I love all that stuff about technology. But, I do have my concerns. I think we are less “free” in a way. Have to have the phone at all times; why engage with what I am looking at on vacation when I can be sending photos of it to people who couldn’t care less. If I don’t prove I am there, my experience won’t be validated. OMG! Companies and the government accumulate information on us – and we don’t know exactly what they know, or how they plan to use it. Some people have unleashed their inner bully because they can be anonymous. I could probably go on and on and on about both pros and cons. But I won’t.

Technology and learning are a natural fit. We use information to teach, we teach information evaluation, so why shouldn’t we teach/model responsible use of technology?

I have chosen: curious, creative, focused, adaptable, organized. Technology promotes access to information that responds to curiosity. All of the on-line tools available these days make it easy to record, film, edit, draw, write … a creative persons dreamworld! (I am hanging out for a 3d printer) Focus gets you most effective use in searching and mastering tools. Some children have a hard time focusing in regular ways. If you learn best by hearing, you could get your computer to read your lessons to you. Finding a group of people online that have the same interest and can support you – that can help give your life focus. When new information and technology and circumstances come along, it helps to be able to take these on and try them out and incorporate the ones you like (adaptable). Organization implies control and understanding. You want to able to use everything all this technology is streaming past you? Better be able to store it where you can find it and understand if and how it is inter-related.

Hmmm. My predictions…Well, I think it would be great to have a person beam in from across the world to do a presentation, take a class, whatever. I want to be able to print out stuff on my 3D printer. (Could I print out an entire car?) If I want to do distance learning, I would like a more interactive experience (because I always have questions!). Has anyone seen what Microsoft (?) has done with the gaming experience? Pretty amazing. Moved it beyond the screen to the entire room! I could be very happy with growing my own kidney (should I need one) – not so happy about having machine parts. Maybe they stick something up in the atmosphere to control the ozone and whatever else – can we manufacture an Ice Age by mistake? “Whoops!, Sorry!” just won’t do …

But – I plan to be taking it all with a grain of salt and pick and choose what I incorporate into my life.

Refine the Web

EVALUATING SEARCH RESULTS

I chose Weimar Republic for the evaluation results task and used all the browsers suggested.

 Google yielded:

www.historylearnignsite.co.uk (has ads ; Chris Trueman set up site in 2000 ; has history degree ; teaches ; updated)

www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk (John Simkin, published author on various history subjects ; teaching for over 20 years; homepage clearly states it is educational ; articles list primary sources used; has ads)

dmorgan.web.wesleyan.edu/material/weimar.htm (timeline; David W. Morgan, Haverford and Oxford; can email him; factual)

http://weimar.facinghistory.org/    (2011; primary sources; Facing history and ourselves. Stated goal is to nurture democracy through education programs; aimed at educators; founded in 1976)

DuckDuckGo: lots of dictionaries and encyclopedias

http://www.germanculture.com.ua/library/history/bl_weimar_republic.htm  (personal website)

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Weimar_Republic   (encyclopedia)

http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Weimar_Republic  (dictionary, but more like encyclopedia; 2010 ; aimed at education)

http://wiki.mises.org/wiki/Inflation_in_the_Weimar_Republic (Austrian school of economics site)

 

Bing: a mix of Google and the Quacker

 

InstaGrok: different interface for searching that I imagine teachers will rave on about because of the mind map; many results ‘pages’ but only a few websites.

www.mongabay.com  (environmental site, not sure why it has history articles…)

www.globalsecurity.org (John Pike ; huge site! ; information is authoritative ; security is main focus)

 

TRUSTED SITE

Artcyclopedia.com is my trusted source. On the About us page, the designer of the site – John Malyon – gives his parameters for artist inclusion/exclusion and provides both his email and physical addresses. Information about the proper use of the images is stated.

He links to museums, art news, paintings, other artworks and articles (most current was 2010) – providing a “guide to more than 6,000 painters, sculptors, photographers and fine craftsmen represented in leading art museum sites”. One of the current news items was dated May 3rd. (Boy with a Frog in Venice is being replaced by a REPLICA lamppost! Oh, the power of the few whiners against the majority … )

The Links page has a super-abundance of Fine Art links, and Art Museums Worldwide has an interactive way to find out all the museums in say, Liechtenstein (1), Latvia (4!) and any other place in the world you might want to visit.

The Advertise page explains the sort of ads he does, gives examples and goes into a fairly in-depth description of the ins and outs.

http://www.artcyclopedia.com/

 

 TAGGING

I have been tagging things in Diigo and Evernote  – and Library Thing for several years now. I find it a convenient to retrieve related items. I am not a uncontrolled, ‘have I forgotten any conceivable word that someone might want to search on’  type of tagger and go for the minimalistic approach.

 

CURATING

I joined Pinterest and have had a brief look around. Lots of time involved swanning about and checking stuff out. Think I had better reserve this activity for home, as I can see my day swiftly disappearing down the “Oooh, interesting site” bottomless well.

Assessing Value of Tools

EVERNOTE Evernote

I delved into Evernote for the first evaluation. The Terms and service and Privacy policy pages were easy to find. At the bottom of the evernote.com page in the About section, I found a who’s who (company info), careers possible as well as the terms and privacy. Some of it was quite interesting (though not in a QI way) and some of their info actually has humor.

Did you know that the Evernote mark may only be used as a noun or an adjective? (Trademark) All of the info you save is stored on servers in the USA and they admit that information transmission security is not 100% ; but once they have your data, they do their best to keep it secure(Privacy Policy). There are instructions for deleting content and deleting accounts ; they are pretty straightforward (Terms).

I learned about functional (move around website and use its features, to remember settings, etc.) and performance (how I arrived at Evernote, which pages I visited, am I new?, where I spent the most time) cookies. I can opt out of the marketing cookie (Marketo). I can turn off all the cookies, but it will probably downgrade my experience.

Evernote is aimed at adults, not children. And they will protect your privacy even after you die!

As a person not residing in USA, Canada or Brazil – my relationship with Evernote is governed by the laws of Switzerland. I have 1 year to file a claim against Evernote. After that, it is debarred.

I found the “legal language” easy to understand, clear and precise. There really wasn’t anything that really surprised me. The policies are longish, but not depressingly so. I didn’t read it when I signed up. I was hoping that if it there were egregious policies, the PLN wouldn’t be using Evernote!

Not sure about the concerned part – I don’t like to have information harvested about where I went and what I (obviously) like. But, if I go to the shops and interact with the people that work there, they harvest information about me, too. They just store it in their heads and may share it with their co-workers. (Are you a customer “from hell”? You can bet that if you are, everyone in the building knows about you!)

Clearly stated on the Evernote Blog>> Evernote’s three laws of data protection:

Our desktop software lets you export all of your notes and content in human-readable HTML as well as a fully documented machine-readable XML format.

 I think I would recommend this service to some people.

dropbox DROPBOX

This is an organizational/sharing tool. Required to join, provide email address and make up another login. The Privacy and Terms and Conditions seems to be of the standard variety (as for Evernote) – form use of service to managing your stuff. I did note that Dropbox can terminate your free account if it is not used for 90 days. No warning email required.

I think that it could be useful professionally for sharing, collaborating on team projects, always have the information needed “on tap”, coordinating activities. In an educational setting, I suppose it could be used by students on teams, or for sharing worksheets and class tasks … possibly for turning in your homework? I think it is more of an enhancing tool. I think it could be useful – and they have made it easy to share as much or as little as you want.

Would I recommend it? Probably, but I think I need to play with a bit more, first.

Twitter and Facebook

I have joined Twitter (does that mean I am a Twitterer?  or am I a  Twitcher?) and here (I think) is my “handle”: Karen Crawford @mlckew

I have selected a few things to follow (mainly news and authors, and of course (!) Bright Ideas) and I am sure that I will develop a degree of proficiency over time. And in my case that might be a looong time! Why? Because I don’t use my phone for Twitter and I struggle to find time to trawl through things a t work. I can see the allure of the drip-feed of latest info you absolutely, positively, just must have, but I have questions.

Why do I have to know everything right this minute? How is civilized order maintained? Do people get told off for being rude, boring or inflammatory? Is this the perfect time-wasting tool? How many people do we REALLY care about? Are famous people’s passions more valid than our own? Do famous people really want to interact with the non-famous? Or just give out bits of gossip? Can information be manipulated easily by the unscrupulous? Aren’t tweets mainly just alerts to new content on blogs and websites? Is there pressure to become “interesting”, to have unique or even provocative viewpoints? How many of our daily, hourly or minutely thoughts do we really need to share? How easy is it to lie? Who verifies the truth of what we are reading?

So far, I have not signed up for a Facebook account. And I most likely never will. There has so far been no argument that has persuaded me that I can’t live without it. I have had a cruise around my son’s Facebook account (thanking him for his tolerance and good nature!) I asked him a lot of questions, starting with :Why? Because his friends all had accounts. How often does he use it? Not very. What sort of info does he share? Non-personal.

He demonstrated liking something and getting together with all the other people who like it too. We visited a few commercial places and had a little demo on the whole joining thing. We did photos and pictures. Messages. He said that some of his friends are addicted to it and spend far too much time on Facebook. No matter how careful you are, it seems, information you thought was sequestered, can still be accessed. Too much personal information all handily stored in spot. Facebook knows who you are, who your friends are, what you’re interested in, where you go on the web, what apps you use – and who knows what all else. No thanks.

There are plenty of other collaborative sites for interests and professional learning and contact. I would like to think that people in the education profession would not rate Facebook as the place to go for collaboration – just as Google is not considered the font of all knowledge.

 

Evernote, Clipping and Diigo

I have linked and clipped and started a library of online resources. My head is spinning a bit – and it can be a bit daunting to remember all the  steps in swapping and changing between everything … but I am sure that all of this will become swifter and flow more easily over time.

My current methods of saving on-line resources are to use favorites toolbar, RSS feeds, Wikis and sometimes copy links to documents with related topics… pictures to folders. I think that using these new tools makes it easier to share what we find, learn and think is interesting. But sometimes I look at my email and feeds and wonder when I will ever have the time to get through it all.

Workflow is important to everyone, student or not. We all need to be on top of our deadlines and have quick and easy ways to manage the information we resource, evaluate and decide to keep – and then want to share.

Digital technologies and the internet have made driving in unfamiliar neighborhoods easier ; maps online are fantastic. When you are driving around and need an address for a business, the phone and hence the internet are right there with you. Bookings online, airplane reservations, searching for holiday destinations, finding books to read in a specific subject, topic or genre. Spelling, geography, song lyrics – you name it and these days it is quick and easy to find those answers. Chat with people on the other side of the world. News is immediate. I love it. But I wonder sometimes if all this instantaneous response has made people a little more impatient?

Here is the link Cameron asked to be inserted into our post:

https://www.evernote.com/shard/s313/sh/9df7bb5f-4c6b-42c1-9497-a7fb047e2153/225907e397efb9cd59f677985d657b15

A bit about me

I work in the library at Methodist Ladies’ College, coordinating the Technical Services area. We all use WIKIs, blogs and prepare material for media display on a regular, if not daily, basis. I don’t post Tweets, but I check feeds once a week or so. I have used RSS  and follow some blogs.

I get information on new technology and tools from a variety of places … conferences are a great source of “what’s happening now”, colleagues share what they discover, relevant publications discuss new trends and ways to integrate them into the work flow, family members that keep up with the latest in everything electronic tell me all about them.

My expectation is to acquire some tools and skills that I can share with my work colleagues. Hopefully we will be able to use what I will discover to interact with students and staff more dynamically.