If you don’t do it, it doesn’t exist!

I admit, I’m a little late to the party, and my recipes  are simple to say the least. But you know, one of the very best things about learning and working with students and fellow educators is always being fortunate enough to find more to learn! There is no shortage of ideas that can be done.

My main work is with professionals – teachers in schools and post school settings.  So we are not talking new learners!  Now I don’t buy the digital native argument for a minute, but I do wring my hands in despair at educators who don’t keep their minds and hearts open to exploration, innovation, and learning in whatever way is needed to ensure that the role we play as an educator is guaranteed to be useful – even if only in a very small way.

Yet I understand things not always coming easily. If you can’t ‘find the URL’ to a item, I’ll help you learn (yes, I still get asked that question). But I’d much rather you asked me a complex question about professional practice, information curation, or ways or managing information flow. Why?  Because these are some of the key challenges for educators.

So back to that basic recipe I mentioned – yes, I finally faced up to the fact that I NEED to be using IFTTT for more effective information gathering as part of my subject delivery processes. I have my colleague Dean Groom to thank for the final push. We’re playing in INF541 Game Based Learning, a subject which Dean is teaching after heading the writing team of Groom and O’Connell again. Wow, the years have flown since we got into online environments and virtual worlds with our small books back in 2010.

But nothing has changed since then. Still learning. Dean showed me how to set up IFTT to gather a running record of what’s happening in our subjects, and how to push that information back out as part of our participatory learning experience.

What is IFTTT?

IFTTT empowers you with creative control over the products and apps you love. Recipes are simple connections between products and apps.  I knew this, and until now the only recipe I had running was an email of a new recipe to me each week. But I never did anything else.  Dreadful.

The amazing thing is that IF Recipes run automatically in the background. Create powerful connections with one simple statement — if this then that.

For example:

So now I am using three recipes, taken from shared recipes available at the site, and also one customized by Dean.

Now we are both doing the following:

  • Collecting all the tweets with the subject #hastag in a Google spreadsheet.
  • Collecting all the blog posts that relate to the subject from my Feedly category to a Google spreadsheet
  • Sending back to twitter the new posts that turn up in the Google spreadsheet.

This is all automatic.  What does this allow?

Participatory sharing ||| Data collection ||| Subject tracking |||

Now we have the opportunity to quickly confirm (or otherwise) the extent of a students actual participation in the back-channel as part of the course experience – a vital part of monitoring student engagement and program effectiveness. There are many other formal channels, of course, but the social media aspect was one that I was never quite happy about.

I’m embarrassed I didn’t do this sooner! But of course, that’s why I am still learning from my peers. :-)
Image: creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by venspired

What’s with all the conversations?

You know how it is these days – everyone seems to be looking at some kind of an iDevice or another, where-ever you turn. It’s easy to make trivial comments about the iSociety, but let’s face it – the future of technology and information is anything but trivial!

Last year I discovered that I could speak to my mobile phone – literally ask it a  question.  With the power of SIRI (Apple’s iOS information navigator) my mobile phone gave me some answers right there on my screen.  It would seem that soon there will be no need to read an answer to a question with voice responses being the norm, and in another few decades there may not even be a question!

While we grapple with devices, interfaces and screens in our daily lives, the futurists tell us that we will BE our technology and information will be who we are and what it made us.

As we watch the fast-paced changes taking place in technology, the web of data and the social connections between us, the value of information as knowledge remains the core business of librarians and info-nerds. The “Fourth Revolution,” proposed by Floridi (2012)  describes the current information age, an era in which our understanding of both self and world is significantly altered by sudden changes in the information climate and which are directly attributable to the advent of computing machinery from Alan Turing (1912-1954) onwards.  As curators of knowledge and cultural history the burning question in this fourth revolution undoubtedly lies in our ongoing ability to manipulate and manage information flow.

The digital revolution has given us instant communication and easy global connectedness, with mobile technology and its influences in particular growing at warp speed – in 2013, there are almost as many mobile-cellular subscriptions as people in the world. This digital transformation has produced some extraordinary tools for flexible learning, which are exciting for both students and teachers and promise new and innovative methods of teaching. However, these tools can also be incredibly daunting and challenging for educators.

Thomas and Seely Brown (2011), who explored this new culture of learning in our world of constant change, explained how much the Internet has changed the way we think about both technology and information. In this new culture of learning, information technology has become a participatory medium, giving rise to an environment that is constantly being changed and reshaped by the participation within information spaces. They argue that traditional approaches to learning are no longer capable of coping with this constantly changing world. Teachers no longer need to scramble to provide the latest up-to-date information to students because the students themselves are able to take an active role in helping to create and mould it, particularly in areas of social information.

To support and nurture learning in these evolving environments is a challenge, and why using digital mediums to communicate, collaborate, and curate in the management and dissemination of information is important. Library and information science academic and professional development programs should be designed to enhance personal professional networks and personal learning conversations.

I’m pleased to welcome a new group of students into our degree program for Teacher Librarianship. These ‘students’ already have a wealth of professional experience as teachers behind them, but our professional program for them is already challenging them with  new cultures of learning  – and it’s only Week 1!

It’s exciting to see the evolving information ecology that these students are moving into. What’s more exciting is that with such a great new bunch of students, I know that teacher librarianship will be in safe hands in the future.

Floridi, L. (2012). The fourth revolution. The Philosophers’ Magazine, (57), 96-101.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change (Vol. 219). Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.

Image: The Family Pile cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Blake Patterson

Picture panic!

Back to blogging, and of course one of my ‘go to’ tools is my FlickrCC Attribution Helper.

Heart-stopping moment is over – my Greasemonkey script wasn’t working!!  Luckily all it was – I was due for an update. If you want to learn more about this really cool tool from my pal CogDog then read about GreaseMonkey and Flickr for the Adventurous.

Alan tells us more about his latest coding venture and fix (and the story behind it all) of the script Flickr CC Attribution Helper Fixed.

Check out Find Free Images Online for other image source and management ideas.

Trust me, things will never be the same!  Love your work Alan!

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!

Crystal ball gazing 2011 for Heyjude

This time of year there are so many articles and comments with predictions for the year, so I am not going to add to the collection – well not in general terms anyway :-)

If I could crystal ball gaze what 2011 will bring in my own professional work and learning experiences, I’d be happy. Really I would.

A few challenges that are staring me in the face will require my undivided attention, starting with this blog, my online tools, and my daily organisation of networked discussions.

What should my focus be, as I transition into the working world of a university academic?

Here is a bit of crystal-gazing:~

  • Be sure not to allow my head, thoughts, ideas ricochet endlessly like balls in a pinball machine.  Put time limits on myself, and set realistic goals!
  • Tidy up my online places, repositories, tools and then undertake a review of what I do and how I do it.
  • Work out what I want to share, and why?
  • Work out how I want to share!
  • Commit to solid professional reading, and participate in professional exchange.
  • Communicate with and work with people in my PLN to add value to my own work, and to stretch my own ideas beyond my current capabilities.
  • Share whatever knowledge and experience I can  through workshops, seminars, presentations, school-based work etc so that we continue to grow in our knowledge connections.
  • Push back into my professional community through collaborating, writing and presenting.

Sounds easy really!

Not so … it all takes time and grunt.

Currently my head really does feel like a pinball machine, with too many thoughts,worries, ideas, and work requirements competing for my attention. I’ve just completed some research assistant work for a colleague in the School of Educational Leadership at ACU, which I’m dovetailing with some course revision (before my official start at CSU) for one of the courses I will be teaching. I’m heading off for a day-long Committee meeting related to the  ASLA XXII Biennial Conference 2011.  I’m hoping to find time to get my head into Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2011, with Stephen Downes and George Seimens.  I’m looking at my list of articles that I have promised to write. I’m totting up the upcoming presentations that I’ve also committed to for 2011.  I’m checking out the courses I’ll be teaching – all new to me, and nothing like my work in schools. I’m groaning … and wondering what to attack next, and how to improve things. Don’t get me wrong – it’s exciting but it’s also mind-bogglingly different.

I KNOW there are plenty of people who achieve more than I can ever hope to manage – so at least I want to figure out how to help learning within my PLN.

But at the end of the day I’m a  creature of habit, and it takes self-imposed changes to keep that focus. Like Jenny, I’ve done some blog renovation – though this year I did not change the banner.  When I started this blog back in 2006, it looked and felt different! I added some social buttons – to streamline the ‘look’ somewhat. Imagine that – we didn’t have all these tools back in 2006!

So what will I use this blog for in 2011?

  • I think that I will continue to do information dissemination – though not in the way I did back in 2006. I regularly share information via Twitter, Facebook,  Diigo, Delicious, with other tools sneaking in at times too – something that wasn’t possible back in 2006. What this means is that  my blog focus is adapting from the original 2006 focus.
  • In addition to writing about things that grab my interest, I think that I will also communicate with ‘new’ education and library professionals – some who may be taking my courses, or who may just needing a helping hand into the networked learning world.
  • Perhaps I will reflect on what I find in my new role, and the broader issues from a perspective beyond schools.
  • I’m not a clever reporter, so I think I will leave that to others.

Have I forgotten anything?

I’m looking for really new ways of looking at all this.  Like the tiny apartment that transforms into 24 rooms – I want to find out how to be more efficient with my work world in 2011.

QuietWrite is worth a mention

I was intrigued by a few recent references on Twitter and by bloggers of  a new tool called Quietwrite.  So I’ve jumped on over, and taken a test drive.

This is definitely a distraction-free online editor, allowing  you to concentrate on your writing, rather than wrangling with a blog interface. Easy to use, and  quick to get on with it.

Larry Ferlazzo explains:

Quiet Write is a new and simple application that lets you write online in a no-frills environment and then publish your work and are given a unique url for your creation. Registration is equally as simple — your email and a password. Unfortunately, unlike other somewhat similar apps, you can’t add images to your page.

It’s no “great shakes,” but it could be another option for a super-easy place for students to publish their work online with no hassle.

Quietwrite offers:

  • Focus on writing
  • work is automatically saved as you write, so you’ll never lose a thing.
  • Start a simple no-frills  blog in seconds and share your writings (use it for conference/meeting notes as well)
  • Edit what you write on an iPad
  • Export writings to your WordPress blog

Now hang on – that last point is a nice feature!  Here’s what this means:

Quietwrite offers peaceful WordPress integration: Link your QuietWrite account to your WordPress blog. This will allow you to easily export any of your writings to your WordPress blog, whether it be on wordpress.com or on your self hosted domain. We’re sure that our editor will be a delightful addition to your WordPress workflow, allowing you to concentrate on fleshing out your blog posts, and then quickly exporting it to your blog.  A  peaceful place for people to write anything, for anywhere. That includes blog posts, books, articles, or that sci-fi novel that you’ve been putting off.

I’m liking the sound of this new-fangled toy :-)

Windows WordPress Wow

Windows Live and WordPress.com

I’m not a keen been when it comes to Windows products, but I know that many organisations (including my school) are built on a Windows platform. Naturally I’ve never been tempted to use Windows Live for blogging, as I’ve been sold on WordPress since I started blogging back in 2006.  So it was nice to see that Windows has conceded to WordPress as the better blogging platform.

Good onya!  Come on all you live blogers….join me here at WordPress!

As we looked at customers’ blogging needs and what different companies were providing, we were particularly  interested in what WordPress.com is doing. They have a host of impressive capabilities – from a scalable platform and leading spam protection, to great personalization and customization. WordPress powers over 8.5% of the web, is used on over 26 million sites, and WordPress.com is seen by over 250 million people every month. Not only that, Automattic is a company filled with great people focused on improving blogging experiences. So rather than having Windows Live invest in a competing blogging service, we decided the best thing we could do for our customers was to give them a great blogging solution through WordPress.com.