Friday, March 26, 2010

Thing 23

and then there were none . . .

While I was pleased to learn about the 23 Things project, when it was introduced, I had no idea I would enjoy it so much. I am sad to see it end.

I assumed that I would have the opportunity to explore and practice using new web tools, and I did. The real value for me, and the unexpected bonus, was that there were also opportunities to reflect on how and why we use the internet and how it is reshaping our lives and communities. The video about the internet from an anthropological point of view was really interesting in this regard. Who knew our tech hours could be spent in philosophical contemplation?

If we had the opportunity to participate in another project like this, I certainly would. I enjoyed the independence and flexibility of the program, since it is difficult for me to attend tech classes here at school. The project also allowed us to individualize our approach to the material, focusing on each new Thing in the way that made sense to us, based on our previous experience with that web tool and the ways we thought we might use it in our personal and professional lives. While we were working independently, it was helpful to be able to check in on other people's blogs to see what they were learning--this added a communal dimension to the project, if we chose to take advantage of it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thing 22

Well, I was REALLY excited yesterday. I decided to use this Thing to find and learn to use the greatest timeline tool ever--I know there has to be one out there--which will do exactly what I want it to do. For the last 2 days, I thought I had succeeded. I found a nifty sight called Capzles. It allows you to upload photos, video, audio and little blogs right into a timeline.

Then today happened. I was working up a mock timeline and discovered that I could not set the date prior to January 1, 1753. Since this site is in its Beta version, I jumped on the online survey and suggested that they expand the time parameters. I hope they do it, because, aside from this flaw, the site is perfect for what I want to do.

At the moment, I'm suffering Web 2.0 let down. It's not as fierce as a full technological meltdown, but it's sad nonetheless. Still, I'll pick myself and my laptop up and try, try again.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thing 21

I have had a twitter account for a while, though I don't really use it much. I am not very interested in people who comment on being tired, or driving home from work, or eating a ham sandwich, or this or that. I am a follower of several tweets related to my work. I tend to tune in when there is something newsworthy that I know people/organizations will be tweeting about. I never tweet myself.

For Thing 21, I explored two Twitter-related sites that were new to me. The first was, which is just plain fun in a laid back, nothing else to do, kind of way. The other site I looked at was, which actually proved to be useful. I was able to put in some current events and find tweets related to them from a variety of sources. I will probably use this in the future.

I wouldn't use Twitter in my classes. The format is too limited for connected thoughts on an issue. I can see how it is useful for updating friends and family on an adventure like a project term trip.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thing 20

Slideshare is a great tool for sharing presentations. I found many useful presentations on the website, although I had to sift through a lot of chaff to find the wheat. The presentation I embedded in my last post was kind of cool, because it suggested ways religious education might be enhanced by Web 2.0 and even made comparisons between the use of Web 2.0 and the ways in which Jesus and the church have shared the gospel traditionally. I will definitely visit this site in the future.

Although I would like to get away from using powerpoint in the classroom, this site would make that tool more interesting, as students could post their presentations and then comment on each other's work.

Web 2.0 Ideas in Religious Education

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thing 19

I love podcasts. They are what help me survive my daily commute to and from school--and my commute is unnaturally lengthy! One of the things that attracts me to podcasts is the infinite variety available.

Some of my favorite podcasts, which I subscribe to through iTunes, are public radio programs which are made available as podcasts after they air on radio. Included in this category are "This American Life," which narrates first person stories connected by a common theme and "The Thomas Jefferson Hour," in which historian Clay Jenkinson discusses Jefferson's life, ideas and contemporary issues in character. Other podcasts I listen to are produced by magazines which advertise their work through free podcasts. This category includes the "BBC History Magazine." This podcast includes interviews with the authors of pieces from that month's magazine. Other favorites for me are "true" podcasts, written and produced purely for the internet, without connection to traditional media materials. In this category, my favorites include the International Spy Museum Spycast, with interviews of people in the field of intelligence, both US and international; Dan Carlin's Hardcore History, the most passionate and intelligent history podcast I've found online, and Common Sense with Dan Carlin, a non-partisan political show produced and narrated by the same man who makes the history show.

I have used segments of podcasts in my classes. I have found it can hook students into a conversation, and sometimes students have become subscribers to podcasts they first heard in my class.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Thing 18

I have posted to Wikis previously, so I am familiar with this task.

While perusing Wikipedia for this Thing, I discovered that many articles now encourage you to post recommendations for changing an article to a discussion page, so that the idea can be discussed before a change is made. This allows the community to reach concensus on changes (community concensus being one of Wikipedia's current stated goals/policies) before they are made and reduce the number of changes. The more changes there are to the article itself, the more cumbersome it becomes to track the changes and development in thinking through the history page. I made a recommendation on one such discussion page for a TV show I watch.

I then ambled over to Wikia, which was new territory for me. I liked that it is still a young community without the ponderous weight that I now feel on Wikipedia, which is trying to prove itself, in some indefineable way. Wikia is lighter, more entertaining and less structured. On some articles I looked at, it even has a section of the month, which people are encouraged to edit in order to improve the article piece by piece. I edited a piece on another TV show I watch, mostly for grammer and spelling.

Both wikis were easy to navigate and edit. I signed up for an account on each site, because when you post a change, if you don't have a username, the site puts your IP address up on the history page.