Personal digital preservation is important

This last week has been an interesting one, particularly as my students in Creating and Preserving Digital Content began to share their personal experiences with digital content both in the workplace and in their own lives.  I relate to their experiences in so many ways, and I am learning from them – as I always do when I work with students (kids or adults).

At the end of the day, there are so many issues to consider – and yet in school education circles they are not usually mentioned let alone planned for. The reality is, there are different stakeholders in digital preservation – librarians, archivists, museum curators, IT professionals, scientists – all of whom have different reasons for needing to keep things.

Are we throwing away the right things?  Are we preserving the right things?  Are we actually preserving successfully? I still have a small collection of floppy disks, with some material on them that I think I should retrieve – but I no longer have a device that can retrieve the information. My personal bits and pieces are possibly not too important, but your bits and pieces might be vital to your family.   This is such a simple example of obscalesence that is the premsie for Avoiding a Digital Dark Age – which we just might inadvertantly get sucked into if we do not take some firm steps now.

Rob Blackhurst asked Will history end up in the trash ?

It’s a sobering thought that the Domesday book, written in 1086 on pages of stretched sheepskin, has lasted more than 900 years. That latter-day Domesday project is a metaphor for the carelessness with which we’re treating the digital information created during the past 20 years. The first telegram ever sent has been preserved in a frame; the first e-mail, sent in the 1960s using a mainframe computer the size of a room, has been lost. Will future generations look back at this period as a “digital dark age” – a modern equivalent of the early Middle Ages, which left barely a trace on the written historical record?

So perhaps you are like me – and have to reconsider how you manage your digital memories? The Confessions of an Imperfect Digital Archivist got me thinking, though I have to say I haven’t begun any action yet!

Preserving your digital memories is possibily one of the most important things to do.

This Library of Congress site about Personal Archiving provides a good starting point in your personal re-organisation, or you can Download the Personal Archiving Brochure.  The content covers photographs, mail, audio, video, personal records and website.

To be honest, I am now quite glad that most of my personal history is not digital! Our photo albums, letters, home movies and paper documents are a vital link to the past.  Personal information we create today has the same value.  The only difference is that much of it is now digital. As new technology emerges and current technology becomes obsolete, we need to actively manage our digital possessions to help protect them and keep them available for years to come.

This video offers simple and practical strategies for personal digital preservation.

cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by Ian Muttoo

Greasemonkey and Flickr for the adventurous

Some of my students are busy creating slideshare presentations, that we will be able to mill around, listen to their thoughts, and discuss ideas via Slideshare zipcast. The exciting thing about this is also the opportunity to help them develop new ways of managing online tools -AND images for work like this.

A tweet this morning from friend Darcy Moore asking  Dean Groom  (yes, he’s a friend too!) about image attribution in his recent blog post reminded me that I should crosspost  my tip to my students  about  my favourite image attribution tool right here too!

Here it is:

I promised a while back that I would share some more interesting ways to manage your image work online. Tips and tricks abound, but this one from Alan Levine is the niftiest around, so I’ve decided to share it first.

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Sebastián-Dario

So what am I talking about? Well of course, as you prepare your presentation (or indeed work on other image-related tasks in your professional work) one of the things you are doing is noting where the image comes from and providing a hyperlinked attribution. If, like me, you are backed into a corner for time, then you will most certainly end up at Flickr. (Even if not in a rush I still prefer to use FlickrCC, and think laterally in my search terms! I also love the new things it throws up for me.)

There are a few reasons for this:
1. You can store your own images at Flickr and build your own collections
2. You can ‘favourite’ other peoples CC.  images (something I regularly do as I collect images for my various bits of work)
3. Now you can also install a nice GreaseMonkey script to make the image attribute even easier.

Here’s what it’s about – read on, only if you are keen for an adventure!

Alan Levine has written a Flickr Attribution Helper – a browser script that embeds easy to copy attribution text to creative commons licensed flickr images. Greasemonkey is an add-on for Firefox browser. Once Greasemonkey is installed, you have the ability to add all sorts of magical things to the functionality of your browser.

To be honest, the only one I have ever added is Alan’s Flickr Attribtion Helper – but its insanely useful! See the image above – that red tee-shirt and the attribution were simply copied from the HTML box and pasted here in the blog! Done in one go!

Stephen Ridgeway, from New South Wales Australia, created a video that explains how to use the Flickr CC Attribution helper (thank goodness – a blog post by itself would never do it!). Download and install the Flickr Attribution helper (after you have installed Greasmonkey). Then watch the magic happen every time you go to a Flickr image!

Schools taking responsibility for digital citizenship

One of the new courses in 2011 on which I am working at CSU at the moment is called Digital Citizenship in Schools. The opportunity to work with school educators on this topic is a complete bonus!   I feel this way because having recently left working in schools I am only too aware of how easy it is for schools to skirt the issues, or believe they are ‘doing something’ worthwhile – yet missing the point by miles!

It is important to open our eyes as wide as we can to the possibilities, and the far-reaching changes not only in technology tools ( such as computers, laptops, cameras, multi-purpose phones, ipads and portable devices, and ebook readers) but also in information access, and social communications that our digital world is inspiring.

The media constantly report stories about the shift in digital technology use among children and teenagers. These highlight the fact that ‘the shift’ is not just a topic for educators, but is a topic of interest, and perhaps concern, for all adults. Learning to play Angry Birds before you can tie your shoes is suddenly media news!  More importantly, though, is the need to grow in knowledge of the digital environment, and it’s influential role in learning and teaching.

So what are schools doing about it? Ask yourself.  Look around.  Look at your policies, community communications, and your teaching programs. Look at your teachers and figure out how many actually have a clue about any of this?

Fortunatley, there are some really strong role-models in the education community, who help lead the conversation, and now I have found something that I am VERY excited about! – Living in a Connected World

This outstanding website provides information, resources, videos, updates and more for the school community on all matters related to Digital Citizenship.  It’s so easy to build a resource like this for a school using WordPress – yet how many schools have done this?  I  could have built Joeys something like this in the wink of an eye – but of course, that’s just not the way it happens in schools. We had other initiatives underway!

But the question is  – what does it take to create a whole-school response to Digital Citizenship?  What it takes is a Principal with vision, and determination to break through traditional structures to get where we need to go.  This is why is was wonderful to read that Darcy Moore has such a Principal.

For the first time in 20 years I do not have English classes to teach. The principal has requested that I am ‘off the timetable’ and work with all students on digital citizenship and creating a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) or, if you prefer, Personal Learning Network (PLN). This is another small step towards creating an environment at our school where student learning is personalised with the internet in mind.

What Darcy describes as a ‘small step’ would seem to me to be a significant step, given the cost in time and staffing. I would like to find other schools that have taken bold steps to ‘go where no-one has gone before‘.  This is a new frontier  that must be explored, with conections made and tamed,  so that working with digital citizenship it is no longer seen as being groundbreaking.  How long will it take before digital citizenship just becomes citizenship?

final report from the Learning with New Media research group at Monash University’s Faculty of Education was recently released.  This report, called Teenagers, Legal Risks and Social Networking Sites provides an outstanding analysis of  some the issues involved.

The research findings of this project confirm that SNS usage is now playing an important role in the lives of Victorian middle school students, including in socialisation and identity formation. In fact, SNS use has become integrated into the everyday social lives of most Victorian middle school students.

The final words of the report urge:

There is a need for further research directed at understanding young people’s use of SNS and how they can better be empowered to be confident and safer digital citizens. There is also a significant need to further work to be done to assist teachers to be better equipped to understand their rights and responsibilities in the digital communication environment.

We have a  way to go!

Join us in the journey. Become proactive in your use of digital environments, and urge your school to explore and engage in these environments more (rather than shutting them down).

As a result of my work  with our Digital Citizenship course at uni we now have two ongoing resources that readers may like to tap into and help to build.

Find us on Facebook

Find us at Diigo


It’s worth noting – I’m fascinated by the work of Howard Rheingold.  If I could capture just a small portion of his capacity to work with tertiary students I would be thrilled.

I really liked his small posterous ‘mini-course’ on infotention – what a cool way to share information.  I need to explore more….

Howard explains:

Infotention is a word I came up with to describe a mind-machine combination of brain-powered attention skills and computer-powered information filters. The inside and outside of infotention work best together with a third element ‹ sociality.

Watch  the video below – and learn how to manage your own ‘infotention’. Then visit Howard’s Mini-course on Infotention.

Thanks very much Howard for acknowledging that the need for librarians is greater than ever :-)

Six months later how is this magazine fan going?

Funny how quickly you can adapt to a new way of doing things – when it works!  I’m a magazine collector – I like to read magazines to keep up to date, read quietly over a cup of coffee, or take when out and about. One of my favourite things to do is to grab the latest copy of New Scientist before boarding a plane!

But I’ve never enjoyed the stockpile of back issues, and hated making the decision of when to throw them out. I hated this so much, that I even stopped subscribing to magazines as an escape.

Enter my new iPad – and the installation of my Zinio App.  The Zinio Magazines and Book App can be used to browse all my magazines after I’ve  purchased individual issues or bought a subscription. There is an extensive range of magazines from around the world to to make my subscription choices from.

My Zinio library can be synchronised with any of my computing tools,  so my magazines are then available on all of my fixed and portable devices.  Magazines can be viewed in portrait or landscape mode, and hyperlinks can be used to navigate between pages as well as online content.

My paper magazines were never this flexible!

Zinio is not a totally new multimedia experience. It’s been around for years apparently but does seem to have come ‘into its own’ with the iPad.   Zinio simply aims to duplicate the print magazine reading experience in digital format, with zoom and hyperlinks thrown in. For now, I’m happy with that, because that’s what I enjoy. I’m not looking for embedded video files or interactive games. I’m not that interested in the iPad Magazines: Pros and Cons, so much as just wanting to read my magazines, pay less for them, and have them stored digitally. Happy!

When a new issue of a magazine I have subscribed to is ready for pickup – I receive an email. Love getting my Mac World :-)

I don’t bother with reading Zinio on my computer screen, though I might be tempted if I had a Mac Air. However, an additional handy feature is the way that Zinio adapts to the iPhone interface. While you wouldn’t use an iPhone instead of an iPad all the time, the functionality is excellent.

First see the page, then toggle between page view and mobile view with ease. It handles all menu choices, and is as easy as reading newspapers or blogs maximised for use on small devices.

Zinio on iPhone

One of the pleasures of my iPad was re-discovering magazines. Zinio is still developing, even though its been around for a long time. I am sure they will add additional functionality in time, like  sync between devices for latest page read which is common for other e-readers (but not such an issue for a shorted publication like a magazine) and pages being slow to render the first time the magazine is loaded.  I do like that fact that I can delete magazines from the device  too – something like this is not important now, but will be the longer term. Magazines are also backed up in iTunes. The computer interface allows me to search through my magazines, and print pages I want.

But wait – there is more!  I’m amazed that we aren’t talking more about the potential of this tool for our schools and libraries. Education Today from Canada is already available via Zinio. Our professional associations could jump on board.  Thanks to Tammy for highlighting to me “that  Zinio also allows readers to digitally annotate (ink on a tablet) by highlighting and putting notes on text.  Zinio Labs also has their “Digital Classics” library.  There are versions available in Mac and Windows.  There’s also an iPhone version. McGraw-Hill has some textbooks available using Zinio as well.  Here’s an example of the reader window with annotations”.

A guide for newbie social educators

Thanks to the ‘heads up’ from Joyce Valenza over at Neverendingsearch about a useful guide for teachers.

Tools for the 21st Century Teacher, is a wonderful little e-guidebook offering a basic introduction to most things social media and discussion about how they may be effectively integrated into instruction.  Among the many tools covered are Twitter, Diigo, Prezi, Evernote, Wallwisher, Skype.

Better still, Michael Zimmer at Edutechintegration is working on a 2nd edition with more tools. Free to download and share!