Things worth tweeting about

What a couple of weeks of change!  If you have been watching your twitter stream or RSS feeds you couldn’t help but be surprised by some of the juicy tid-bits that have occupied social media. I can’t remember a week like this one for a while, which makes it all the more interesting as I prepare for my next round of subjects. One of these is #inf206 Social Networking for Information Professionals, a subject in which we not only use new media tools, but we explore ways in which we can use them to empower library services.

So here we are with a list of things for #inf206 to think about, and for the rest of us to be bemused by!  I’ve plucked these tidbits from my tweets in the last few days.

According to Search Engine Land  Google Wonder Wheel feature has been taken offline. A group of users who also used Wonder Wheel for keyword discovery and to spot relationships and new concepts were educators, librarians, and students. For example, a librarian might use it to help a user find new words to search with not only with but also using other databases. A teacher or student might use Wonder Wheel to identify ideas for a research project. Will Wonder Wheel be back and available soon? Google didn’t provide a timeline or commit one way or another if it will or will not be available in the future. At the same time  Google Realtime Search has also gone off line. Google’s agreement with Twitter to carry its results has expired, taking with it much of the content that was in the service with it.

Meanwhile, of course, Google is occupying out social media time as we explore Google+. If you are interested, you can go look at 25 Google+ tips to enhance your Google+ experience. I like the way Google+ operates on my iPhone, but right now the idea of the personal shift required in moving to Google+ is ….well looking like a holiday job! Read Google Plus (Google+): The Painful Realization and you’ll see what I mean.

As an aside, I also was interested in a press release from IBM. For the first time, scientists at IBM Research have demonstrated that a relatively new memory technology, known as phase-change memory (PCM), can reliably store multiple data bits per cell over extended periods of time. (instantaneous memory 100X faster than flash) Solid-state flash memory is widely used as a storage medium in tons of consumer devices, from cell phones to laptops like the MacBook Air. While it has big advantages over hard drives in terms of speed and a lack of moving parts, it has a limited lifespan. Now IBM researchers say they’ve crafted a way of encoding data that works better than flash—and has a greatly increased lifespan. Where flash memory can typically be overwritten only 3,000 to 10,000 times, PCM can endure in the order of 10 million write-erase cycles. Read more at PCMag.

OK, I admit I don’t understand this fully – but I do understand that it promises more of what we like -  FAST FAST FAST!

Meanwhile, in the global business world of books, Amazon.com has announced that it is set to acquire The Book Depository, a UK-based online bookstore that offers more than six million titles and ships to more than 100 countries. The Book Depository was founded in 2004 by Andrew Crawford, and in the last financial year its turnover was thought to be in the region of £120m.

So the rush of technology continues, and surprisingly we still can’t seem to quite believe the shift that technology is having on books. After all, we have been making the content for ebooks ever since we shifted from hot-metal presses to digital composition – so even before we had good ebook reading capabilities we were preparing for 21st century book experiences. I can’t be bothered engaging in the ‘best e-reader’ debate – because in the end the shift will happen somehow or another.

The promise of eBooks is definitely flipping our idea of what is possible. With the release next week of the pocket-sized, ultra-light ”flipback” book, it will be possible to enjoy the feel of a printed novel and the portability of an e-book. The books measure 12 by 8 centimetres and weigh less than 150 grams, barely more than an iPhone. The format was invented in 2009, when Dutchman Hugo van Woerden, the CEO of Christian printing house Jongbloed, was looking for ways to use excess Bible paper. He put the lightweight, high-quality ”onion skin” into a series of miniature sideways books that can be read with one hand, perfect for crowded buses and trains.  Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/books/new-books-look-to-flip-ereaders-20110702-1gvym.html#ixzz1RBjLqHMT

Mixed Reality Presentations

I’ve just picked up some information about Mixed Reality Presentations that might be worth checking out. The [Zone] Touch Screen Media Television with Searchable YouTube and Fl… is worth testing.

What’s special about this in-world media TV?

James O’Reilly explains:

“You can substitute the uploading of Powerpoint texture slides into Second Life for L$10 each, and stream a Flickr slideshow into Second Life for presentation purposes for free. When in standby mode, the default screen can be replaced with your own picture by dropping a texture into the contents of the TV. This thus enables mixed reality presentations using Flickr as repository”.

That’s cool!

Second Life Curriculum Resources

Global Kids, Inc. is an internationally recognized leader in using digital media to promote global awareness and youth civic engagement.

The Global Kids’ Online Leadership Program integrates a youth development approach and international and public policy issues into youth media programs that build digital literacy and STEM skills, foster substantive dialogues, develop resources for educators, and promote civic participation.

Global Kids’ Second Life Curriculum is a key component of Global Kids professional development services. They cover everything an educator or student would need to know to use Second Life, whether on their own or within an educational setting. At the same time, it teaches global literacy skills. Components of the curriculum can be used as hand-outs to develop specific Second Life-specific skills or within a broader educational program designed to teach such subjects as science, film-making or literature.

Get copies of the books from Lulu.  Second Life Curriculum Resources.

Blog ‘o the month, virtually!

After a tweet from Scot Merrick, I discovered that November is definitely the month of fun for me.

This blog has been selected for the the Blogger’s Hut @ ISTE Island in Second Life. This is just so much fun, and a real delight to be featured in the Bloggers Hut. Isn’t it nice to have an international ISTE member added to the monthly list!

So now its time to get into Second Life and vote. Come on in and join the fun.

We’re voting on:

Learning Visions”–Cammy Bean
http://learningvisions.blogspot.com/

“HeyJude”–Judy O’Connell
http://heyjude.wordpress.com/

“Bud the Teacher”–Bud Hunt
http://budtheteacher.com/blog/

“A Piece of My Mind”–Scott S. Floyd
http://scottsfloyd.edublogs.org/

Second Life Unconference at Jokaydia

Only a few sleeps till our upcoming jokaydia Unconference, which is happening on the Islands of jokaydia on the 27th and 28th September (AEST)! You can view the DRAFT Schedule of Events on the jokaydia Wiki.

A special thanks to the wonderful people who have volunteered to share their ideas and knowledge. However..dont forget unconferences are about PARTICIPATION! So come along with ideas and crazy schemes to share!

Newbies Please Note: We have planned a number of sessions especially for educators who are interested in gaining some Second Life skills! Join us to ask questions, learn about the Second Life interface and find out more about the Islands of jokaydia!

Yes, come along – there will be some amazing opportunities for professional learning and professional networking. Relax, learn, and be inspired.

And finally - for those who are timezone challenged (and that’s me!)… dont forget to check out the TimeandDate.com fixed time clock to figure out your local time!

From: Jokaydia.com: Virtual Worlds Community

Good intentions win the (Second Life) day!

I love our online technology world!!  This morning I was up and online at 6 am for the ISTE Webinar From Good Intentions to Best Practice: Teaching with Second Life in Middle School.  I was ready to listen to Peggy Sheehy (Maggie Marat) from Ramapo Island talk about her Second Life work – Peggy inspired the Aussie crowd at NECC, so i knew I would be hanging on her every word . The presentation was all about kids researching, building, discussing, creating, exploring and more, with teachers who are taking excellent pedagogy from their classrooms into a virtual world – in which students can extend their understanding and learning in many different subject areas.

Peggy reminded us that teacher preparation is vital. We need to Get Informed: read second life press and forums; read SL education wikis; and belong to SLED – the educator’s email listserve. We need Experience: get a SL account; tour popular places; visit educators spaces for collaboration and join groups; and start to learn to build simple objects. We need to Develop: identify a learning objective; build curriculum with appropriate space!

She explained that we are not looking for extra time in curriculum, but looking for opportunities to move existing curriculum into a space that will engage students in a more powerful way. We still need structure, feedback and quality assessment.  Second Life is an equaliser – reticent students blossom and converse and contribute. It’s the teacher strategies that count!  The skills learned carry right back into the real world classroom, and both students and parents are reporting profound benefits from having a learning environment that incorporates Second Life.

There was a great deal of superb information in this ISTE Webinar. Follow Peggy’s work Ramapo – Suffern Middle School in Second Life

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Infobabble and my head

Reading this article about Twitter made my head hurt just a little less.

The story of how Twitter took off reflects how web 2.0 tools are taking off!

Twitter has become so popular, so fast, that keeping up with its fast-growing user base is a real issue. So many people now use Twitter to update friends that the system often crashes. Twitterers, as they call themselves, post their updates at Twitter.com or by using text- or instant-message tools. The service is even credited with breaking news about fires and other natural disasters.The service is even credited with breaking news about fires and other natural disasters.

So for some, Twitter has been a lifesaver in the whole sea of virtual information. I’m finding that there is just so much information available, at such pace, from so many people…well to be honest, my head hurts a lot! When I started out blogging, social networking was easygoing, a friendly bit of patter with superb points of connection.

Now there is almost to much, and I sense a competitive edge that is not in keeping with that easygoing social networking kind of way of learning. It’s no longer about what the latest tool is, but how many of the seemingly vital tools YOU are using otherwise otherwise you are not really funky Web 2.0!

I am having to prune down rather than add to my toolkit. Too many Ning groups, too many flash meetings, too many points of connection. I am certainly over that initial flush of tool grabbing. I use what I need. I read about the rest, and when I need a way of thinking or connecting for my students, I’ll integrate that. After all, we should be focusing on shifts in thinking, not shifts in technology tools. Too often the shift is about a toy tool, not about substantially different pedagogy. Unfortunately, the reality is that we can’t substantially shift pedagogy on our own, or easily, unless we have a whole-school approach to change. That’s where a school approach wins hands down – the most creative, immersive and best example I have seen of this has been the work the Lenva Shearing is doing at Bucklands Beach. Lenva, you are a dynamo, and an awesome example to us all.

So you know what? I’m over the initial flush of social networking.

Why?

Because more and more networks and social connections are being created and maybe, for me at least, there are too many. So I have to be very particular about what I choose and what I follow – and more importantly – WHY! I have a very busy day job that takes me into the night with all my networking and creative planning for change.

Interestingly these concepts were raised in the backchannel of the excellent Knowledge Conference Key Note presentation by Steve Hargadon on “Web 2.0 is the future of education”. (Congratulations to the organisers for a great conference!)

While we are busy social networking, collaborating, and creating a shared language, I believe we are also beginning to fragment the conversation. The culture of participation is pervasive, and even invasive. I love it and I hate it. I enjoy it and am frustrated by it. The teacher librarians in the back channel reflected on the explosion of information that Steve talked about. No solutions, just ideas. An excellent session for my staff to attend.

My personal focus is staying apace with 3D and the metaverse – simply because this is the new frontier and I want to understand it’s potential for learning and teaching – and life! I can’t ‘talk’ or network with everybody. For now, the group of educators involved with Second Life and the like is sufficiently small for me not to have infobabble in my head!

Photo: Headache