Being web savvy includes Twitter

These days the need for educators to be web savvy is a given.  What’s not so much understood is that being web savvy includes being social media literate!

The digital transformation has produced some extraordinary online tools for flexible education, which enhance students’ learning and promise innovative pedagogy for teachers. However, they can also be daunting and challenging for educators. It is clear that teachers cannot ignore these tools, which go far beyond just Facebook and Twitter. Educators are now dealing with Generation Z – students born after 1995 who have hardly known a world without social media and have always lived a life measured in bits and bytes.

Be web savvy to keep up with Generation Z became a case in point.  Recently I was asked to write this small piece for Times Educational Supplement @TES on this very topic. Nice!  I admit that what I submitted is not exactly as it turned up on screen (the print version looks grand), but that is the way of journalism racing to meet deadlines.

If it wasn’t for Twitter and the wonderful help of @TESAustralia I would still be cringing at the formatting errors – because traditional email was not resulting in a ‘fix’!! It’s true – I’m web savvy, but I had to be social media savvy to be connected with the right person to fix this tiny problem.

Being web savvy has many dimensions – and social media savvy is but one of them. My example is a silly little one of course, but it was important to me! Luckily there are many powerful examples of teachers who understand the full concepts and connections inherent in being web savvy, and I knew that when I included a few key friends and colleagues in my article. Thank you to @kathleen_morris, @BiancaH80, @dbatty1, for being my exemplary representative Australians, including Ivanhoe Grammar’s iCyberSafe.com.

Disclaimer:  I didn’t pick the title of the article!  You have to love a subbie’s take on what teachers might want ;-)

Image: cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Neal Fowler

Your information flow might be so last century

It’s Monday morning, and as I sit down for my morning cup of tea and toast, I open my iPhone to see what’s in my email, and what items in my calendar will need my attention. I can take a little time over this, as I don’t have a long commute to work ahead of me, though I will ‘commute’ across the country (online) while I collaborate with my colleagues on curriculum standards and content alignment in the work we are doing for the new degree.

Next, as I flicked through Twitter (because I like to do that, and because it’s an important information tool) I stopped – and sighed at the struggle still before us of convincing teachers in K-12 schooling that they have to keep up! Well, there are lots of things they need to keep up with, and their own knowledge discipline is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about information flow – the stuff of our knowledge networks, and the fabric of our connected lives.

In just a couple of minutes of my twitter feed (never mind all the hours I was asleep) I found:

I suspect that I don’t take my information flow nearly as seriously as I should. But at least I try! You should try too! We know that there is a lot happening, and that there are various ways of responding to the speed of info-change. Putting your head under a rock is not one of them!

As Stacey explains in her post Extreme Curation:

I’ll admit it! Sometimes I’m a bit slack and while I endeavour to manage my information well sometimes I just can’t be bothered. So now I think I have the answer “extreme curation for slackers”.

Our Edublogger guru Sue Waters provides us with the brilliant Flip-aholic’s Ultimate Guide to subscribing and sharing.

Just to add to the mix, Darcey Moore explores his own new workflow in Writing and Worflow: Scrivener and Simplenote, explaining:

Workflow, for a whole range of professional needs and personal pleasures, is constantly being disrupted lately as tools and processes morph daily or my understanding deepens of what is possible.

Enough said!

If you are involved in education in some way and you’ve still got people who believe that email, google searching, and journal subscriptions are ‘the go’, then you’d better scramble into your Tardis and get to a timezone that’s relevant to the needs of students today.

Image: Dr Who cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by aussiegall

Constant personalisation yesterday, today and tomorrow.

No matter where we look these days, the idea of personalized information streams continue to be supported by new tools, or new ways of working with existing tools – and all linked to our mobile devices in some way.  For example, where-ever I am,  I’m constantly adding items to my public Facebook feed, which ( I have to admit) has remained a constant as any number of other tools have come and gone. I need my tools to interrelate – all the time – easily, and quickly!

What interests me is the amazing uptake of ScoopIT. I was an early adopter myself, but have now taken a different view of the value of the tool – driven by Pinterest. Yes, I’m losing interest in ScoopIT – and here’s why.

I’m not interested in using the ‘built-in’ curation tool that Scoopit offers – it’s just not good enough at sourcing the professional feeds I want.

I’m not interested in having to use a browser-add on – as I just may not be at my computer to Scoop!

In case you haven’t noticed, a Facebook page looks pretty much the same as a ScoopIT page – so guess what – now I am favouring Facebook to do what ScoopIT has been doing!  e.g. Digital Citizenship in Schools vs Digital Citizenship in Schools.

BUT the ScoopIT ecosystem gets so much more traction!  Despite that, I am (like others) now getting really bored with ScoopIT links in Twitter, or Facebook.  When I click on a recommended link I prefer to go directly to the sources.  So there is the dilemma – to Scoop or to FaceBook?  I wonder what you think?

I also became jaded with ScoopIT  me when it insisted on a monthly package upgrade to be able to stream my content to multiple Scoops. Even ScoopIT education wants a monthly payment.  After some emails to try and explain that schools and educational institutions do prefer an annual fee for payment, nothing was put on offer. #FAIL

The other interesting change is the lack of ScoopIT buttons on mainstream pages.  You can Tweet, FB, G+, LinkedIn or Pin –  but you can’t Scoop!  #FAIL

So while I ramble on, the real reason for writing this post is to reflect on  just how much content organisation and curation keeps shifting. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow are fluid places of relentless change.

Thinking about tomorrow?

Check out the new eBook feature enabled in Wikipedia.

We’re happy to announce that a new EPUB export feature has been enabled on English Wikipedia. You can use it to collate your personal collection of Wikipedia articles and generate free ebooks. These can be read on a broad range of devices, like mobile phones, tablets and e-ink based e-book readers.

This is a whole new ball-game for educators. Consider the option of getting students  (Secondary or graduate) to write content for Wikipedia, and publish it as their assessment if it is worthwhile? Consider the teacher or lecturer producing content that is related to a particular discipline and distributing it via this eBook feature – puts a whole new twist on open source publishing! Consider putting your learning materials into Wikipedia and weaving it together to package a knowledge element or topic of investigation?  I think this is a real ‘watch this space’ moment once again.

There’s an explanation and explanatory video at Animals in Space. Basic – but you get the idea. Is this the start of a new shift in information delivery spearheaded by Wikipedia?  I hope so, in the sense that we need to have information from many sources and repositories, but in the first instance we may simply have to plug into Wikipedia with our content. For example, I am toying with the idea of some new ways to assess ‘collection development’ for an Master’s level subject. Prompted by the media release from Wikipedia about the eBook feature, I scanned relevant resources and came up sharply against the lack of good material. Given that Wikipedia is highly searched information source on generalist information  I began to see writing material for Wikipedia as being far more authentic and worthwhile than writing an essay. Still written, but suddenly, with the option for an audience, multimedia content and hyperlinks the learning experience takes on a new focus.  More thinking on this, but I’m tipping that I won’t be the only teacher who begins to see new uses for Wikipedia.

Another tool that caught my eye today was Media2Go. Badged as a new reading experience, it’s just another way of ‘packaging’ what you want.  I’m never that keen on such tools, and (as I mentioned) I’m ‘over’ browser buttons (having lost count of ones used and ditched as media changed)! While I understand that business or corporate users of such tools may have a focussed area of reading, in education we do need to keep open and flexible.

But still worth a try, as its concept has some exciting possibilities. As they explain, the key aims are:

1. Cut out the noise
Bookmarks, saved articles, feeds –we’ve got all those on our browsers too, but how often do you really go back and read all the content you’ve saved? Right at the point of reading, you should be able to see topics that pique your interest and pull content on those topics instantly and without having to sift through tons of articles.

2. YOUR world. YOUR opinion.
We strongly think that we CAN NOT, CAN NOT become a society of homogenized opinions. It’s YOUR world and YOU should have a say in where you get your content from.

Maybe this IS tomorrow? Learn more at the video.

The great unwashed ~ and information


In using the phrase ‘the great unwashed’  I’m not referring to the young Steve Jobs, infrequent bathing discussed in the New York Times, or even the rather disparaging term coined by the Victorian novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton ~ who ultimately led to that phrase “it was a dark and stormy night’ being immortalized by none other than Charlie Brown’s dog Snoopy. (You should check out more about comic book legends and the back story to that doggy author)

But for me ‘the great unwashed’ and the proverbial ‘dark and stormy night’ may well be referring to the rubbish tip that is the internet. Wander in there too long, and you will indeed have a dirty mind and body :-)

Seriously though, this is exactly why teachers need to take such a considered approach as to how to integrate technology tools and digital resources into their learning and teaching environments. It’s also why such initiatives as Wikipedia  have served to teach us how to share and participate in the curation of information. Wikipedia has come of age just when we need it to.

That makes perfect sense. Through user-generated efforts, Wikipedia is comprehensive, current, and far and away the most trustworthy Web resource of its kind. It is not the bottom layer of authority, nor the top, but in fact the highest layer without formal vetting. In this unique role, it therefore serves as an ideal bridge between the validated and unvalidated Web.

Teachers have also been using tools like Diigo and Evernote to show students how to ‘annotate’ the web and share information. While this works well on the smaller scale, it does not match the venture that Wikipedia represents.

Shared on Twitter, Hypothes.is may well be the next phase in making sense of the great unwashed information environment that is the internet. Of course, like any venture it might fail – but I think Hypothes.is is one to watch for now. Imagine…

If wherever we encountered new information, sentence by sentence, frame by frame, we could easily know the best thinking on it.

If we had confidence that this represented the combined wisdom of the most informed people–not as anointed by editors, but as weighed over time by our peers, objectively, statistically and transparently.

If this created a powerful incentive for people to ensure that their works met a higher standard, and made it perceptibly harder to spread information that didn’t meet that standard.

Peanuts image: source Gary Ware
Texture image: cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by SnaPsi Сталкер

Revolutionizing Libraries with Social Media

We are seeing faster and faster changes in the technological
landscape. In fact, in the past few years cloud computing has gone from an abstract idea to state-of-the art storage that we cannot do without.

Within this shifting environment we find libraries in a wide range of organisations (academic, public, corporate, special, schools)  re-visiting, re-imagining and re-branding their spaces, functions and service design.

In the full panalopy of library services, one aspect that occupied a busy group of people last Monday was social media in all its many dimensions. Don’t just think of Twitter, Facebook or Google+. Engaging in a conversation around social media opportunities is much more than than just choosing tools and  developing a social media strategy.

At the heart of the conversation was the issue of purpose, and the factors to consider in developing a social media strategy. As Bradley and McDonald write in the Harvard Business Review blog:-

What is a good purpose for social media? Would you recognize one if you saw it? And if you could identify a good purpose, would you be able to mobilize a community around it and derive business value from it?

Success in social media needs a compelling purpose. Such a purpose addresses a widely recognized need or opportunity and is specific and meaningful enough to motivate people to participate. Every notable social media success has a clearly defined purpose.

However, as librarians, we should have an interest that transcends that business approach. We are curators of knowledge and culture and embed products, tools, objects and strategies  to add value to the trans-literate environments of our communities.

At the day-long seminar Revolutionizing Libraries with Social Media,  co-ordinated by ARK Group Australia,  I explored  these issues with the attendees, ranging from the obvious, to the ambiguities of workplace structures, digital preservation issues, content curation options, community, collaboration, personal social networking vs corporate social strategy, e-services, and more. My colleague Lisa Nash from the Learning Exchange, Catholic Education, Parramatta Diocese also explored eBooks and eServices.

Always at the heart is our  need to ensure that  social media empowers connections within and beyond the library. We are ‘letting go’ – in order to allow our customers, patrons, or corporate clients to shape these services with Apps,  eResources, recommendation services, or strategic information delivery systems. Not every library will benefit from the same social media tools. But every library can develop new options for marketing their services and change the way their clients or community interact with the library.

In fact, there was so much to consider in one day, that the day was really just the start of more planning when the librarians got ‘back to base’.  To facilitate this I put together a LibGuide as a digital handout. The advantage of this was that we could  add requested items immediately as the day progressed , and can continue to curate this resource for future workshops as well as for those who so willingly engaged with us on Monday.

You can visit this guide at Revolutionizing Libraries with Social Media


Image 1  cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by heyjudegallery
Image 2 cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by heyjudegallery

What’s wrong with being a geek and an academic?


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by extranoise

Within the world of academia, you will find all sorts of people with all sorts of interests and backgrounds.

So wrote Deanna in her post  What’s wrong with being a geek and an academic? She  made it clear that people in academia are not simply disconnected from the real world and only talk about their research!

In fact, there are all kinds of people, and for me it’s been confirmed that all kinds of people are right there in academia, as they are in schools.  They play and research in virtual worlds, they are passionate rock climbers, musicians, and creatives, and  they are exploring many aspects of learning –  and geeking that research as well!  We use Facebook and all kinds of social media to teach, share, communicate and engage in discovery with our learners.  In fact, I have found that academia is a much better place to be for ‘geeking your research and learning’!

Charles Sturt University recently went through a major re-branding program, that is being rolled out through all necks of it’s global woods.  It’s easy to be cynical about costs involved in this, but the reality of our online interactions is that marketing is linked to what is visually current for users, and the media that works for them.  The uni needs to meet the online needs of the scholars and alumni and this marketing is directly linked to the way it is seeking to evolve their courses and respond to future needs.

I was pleased to see that they are rolling out mobile versions of access to CSU.

It’s easy to access CSU on the go. Content and services provided through m.csu have been specifically optimised for use on smartphones so that they are quick and easy to access, and will continue to be refined and extended.  More will be added so I hope it’s great.

I was even more excited to see that the official template for our email signatures includes the option to add four social media links: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Now that is officially cool!

A mini-change in blogging for maximum effect

This year I decided that I had to adopt a modified approach to blogging. Why? – because microblogging platforms like Twitter have radically changed the speed of information sharing, and social sharing/communicating products like Facebook have  embedded the idea of social exchange.

A blog  is now a place for reflection for me, a place for sharing of special finds, making comments, or just having fun  – things that take a little planning perhaps?  While it is easy enough to use tools such as ScribeFire, or Writely or iPad’s BlogPress, or other blog enhancing tools, the point of the exercise for me is not so much about speeding up writing a post so much as expanding on the way I can share ideas/information.

So I’ve tidied up my social networking icons on my  blog here, and included a new one pointing to Amplify. Now I have two key tools that suit my needs.  My main blog here – and my  neat little adjunct to blogging at Amplify!  I can clip, share and spark conversation via  Amplify.

Amplify lets me decide how I want to share; allows me to add a bit of commentary; and also lets me auto-post to twitter, facebook and many more.

When I started blogging I thought hard about what I wanted to write – and mostly the posts were about information sharing of some kind. Now, in a digital social media world I would have to blog frantically to keep up!  I already share direct from my RSS feeds – but the added advantage of Amplify is the ability to add commentary, thoughts, or prompts to the reader, while also keeping a record of my own notes for myself.

OK, I admit, I don’t use the social networking features of Amplify – I don’t need them really right now. This is another thing I like!  I really dislike tools that force me to use them in one way only. Amplify doesn’t insist that I get into the social sharing aspect – so somethings I do, but mostly I don’t!

Many use Posterous and other tools to do something similar for reflections ‘on the side’. Works really well, especially when they are ‘thinkers’.

Me?  I’m more of an information sharing kind of person – so Amplify suits me just fine – and I hope it suits you too as I keep using it for now.

Go on – follow what I’m reading on Amplify.com!

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!

Not just Twitter and Facebook ~ it’s a Poken!

Get the pokenPulse combination Poken device and USB Flash drive. Click for details.As John explains in his post on Integrating Social Media and Reality, we live in two separate, parallel worlds, with one foot in each. There’s the online world of text, email, online shopping, Internet search, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Then there’s the real world of food, shelter, family, friends, and work. The two intersect, but they’re not tied together in any robust way. Well, at least until now.

Enter Poken! a device you might keep on a lanyard around your neck or clipped to your jacket, backpack, or bag. Need to exchange information or keep up-to-date with a colleague? If you both have a Poken you can touch the hands of the Poken together and they’ll sense each other’s presence. After a wireless exchange of links, both hands will pulsate with a green glow to announce the successful transfer of information. The magic happens when the Poken is connected online to your personalized online portal.

Way better than a business card ~ amazing social networking! Is this new? Or have I been living under a rock?

more about “Poken Explained on Vimeo“, posted with vodpod

Don’t Miss These Twitter and Facebook Guides

Whether you are teaching a class, helping a friend or just looking for information for yourself these guides from Mashable are a great resource.

The Facebook Guide topics include:

  • Facebook 101: The Basics
  • Managing Your Facebook Wall
  • Using Facebook for Business
  • How to become a fan of Mashable
  • Using Facebook Applications
  • Facebook 305:Advanced Topics

Twitter Guide topics include:

  • Twitter 101 – The Basics
  • Building Your Twitter Community
  • Twitter for Business
  • Twitter Guide Book To Go: PDF Download and Slideshow
  • Sharing on Twitter
  • Managing Your Twitter Stream