Post-Christmas Sales

I enjoyed Christmas and it was finally warm enough. I enjoyed the cricket at the MCG (except for the result) and I kept away from the shopping centres. (I really don’t like the crowds). I next have a week at the beach then the tennis. I’m not sure when I will be on the computer again. I hope everyone else has a happy and safe New Year!

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com 

 

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Useful site/links

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

2008: my top 10 tools/sites

Uploaded to Flickr 21092008 by mugley

Uploaded to Flickr 21092008 by mugley

I closed the library doors for the last time last Friday evening. This is my last job to do on line for 2008. I was thinking about my top 10 whilst I was cleaning out a room where we have been storing our display materials. We have been given some new cupboards to replace the storage place we lost just on 12 months ago. Hands-on is sometimes therapeutic and necessary in the library. I took about 850 fiction books off the shelves a week or so ago. The books were old copies, and no longer read, and would have been picked up by our computer system but the well-loved but tatty copies need to be looked at. We need to work out what needs to be replaced from this group and some are part of series, so if they can’t be replaced, the whole series may as well go. I have been able to find good replacement series titles in local second-hand shops.

Anyway back to to top 10:

1. SearchMe:  I introduced this to students earlier this year, along with a few others of a similar ilk. Both senior and junior students really took to SearchMe very quickly.  SearchMe is a search engine that allows you to view the web pages your search has turned up before opening them. The other really significant aspect is their “Stacks.” Students liked the click and drag options to store information they have found and the ability to share it with others. I wrote 2 posts about using it, in early July and a few days later. These have been the most viewed posts and although there have been few comments I believe that this search engine has proved popular.

2. Diigo (and Delicious): The social book marking tools have become very important to me. I wrote about Diigo, and why I like using it, in detail in an earlier post. I have really found the group sharing a great boon to me.

3. Flickr (and the tools for searching and using the images.) This has been a great source for finding CC images and using them in a variety of different and interesting ways. I am greatly indebted to those clever folk who create these tools and share their work with the rest of us. You could do a top 10 Flickr tools! Search tools such as FlickrStorm, FlickrLeech,  CompFight and FlickrCC make it so easy to find images as does TagGalaxy.  The photo sets from various people and bodies have also been fantastic sources for digital images. A great source of information for those in schools is the Diigo Group, “Flickr in education.”

4. Life/Google Photo archive.: This is an amazing resource that chronicles life since the 1860’s. I discussed it in a post in November. I have been back to this site quite a number of times since I discovered it.

5. Europa Film Treasures: This is an archive of historical European tools. (My Post on it) Again I love the social history part of this. I studied film many years ago as part of my degree and have always found the medium fascinating.

6. Audacity: the free tool that enabled students to create radio interview podcasts in response to their literature circle class reading. This tool has been used for a number of things but the one I had the most fun listening to were the podcasts our student produced, and their enthusiastic response to the class work.

7. Google has so many products. I guess the next one I like is Google maps. I used this for the first time when I was following the Tour de France. Since then there have been all sorts of projects that have used its capabilities. Diigo has another group that called “Google in Education” that is worth a look.

8. WorldMapper is a wonderful collection of world maps that allows viewers to see various types of information in a graphic way, i.e. as a map

9. Silobreaker: It is a useful search engine tool that you can use to find information about a current news topic. It is a very slick way to aggregate the entire Web’s information on a topic into one page. You also have the option of an advanced search to narrow the search down.

10. WordPress: The blogging platform I use. I know that people are saying the Twitter is the “now” tool and blogging is old hat. I was reading a blog the other week that talked about both. To paraphrase, it said “Twitter is a way of connecting, but blogging is more than just connecting, it is also about reflection. The two are complimentary to each other in the circle of learning.” I believe this to be the case. It does not have to be one or the other. In fact I could not put onto Twitter everything in this post, but I can make others aware of my post and they can decide whether or not to read it and or comment further.

So there it is my top 10 for 2008. There are others that I like and next year it will probably change but all of the above are worth a look.

Useful Sites (weekly)

  • teachingwithFlickr » home A wikispace about using Flickr by Michael Coughlin. Flickr is a social media tool that has, as its primary purpose, to provide an online space where people can upload and store their photos and videos. It also offers great potential for teaching.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Typealyzer: checking my blog writing style

One of the forum discussions on our PLP Ning is entitled: What does your blog writing style say about your personality?

featured-blog

I did the test using Typealyzer. This tool analyses the writing style in your blog. I don’t know if the content is analysed or the tags but it is entertaining and faster than answering all the questions on the Myers-Briggs survey. Continue reading

Setting the mood with MoodStream

It’s getting towards the end of the working year for me. I’m thinking about the last post that I want to make before I sign off for a few weeks. Tania Sheko at Brave New World has challenged me to come up with a top 10 list for the year (2008) I will post this list tomorrow. Narrowing down the list to 10 has been the hardest part.

home

Meanwhile as I was reading through blogs, research, etc. I came upon this site and the prompty lost the post that pointed me to it.

I like sites that involve images as you would have guessed if you have looked at this blog before. MoodStream is a very innovative application by Getty Images. (Launched in June 2008, I think.) I found that I became completely absorbed in the images and sound that were assembled together to form a continuous live stream. I watched several streams changing little things each time.

You can specify the particular mood/ambience that you want to convey and the images, videos and music from the Getty Images Media bank are put together to reflect that mood.

settings

When you find something that you are happy with, you can add it to a virtual moodboard that can be saved and replayed later. (You can also choose to but any selected media from Getty.)

current_stream_list

I would think there would be a place to use this in a number of class activities. First of course to set a mood for creative writing or drawing/painting. It is a tool that graphically shows students how you can put together ideas, images and sounds to create something more, but is more simple than a longer film.

Vocab exercises would be fun if you  did word associations with  the images (with/without the sound). Try to create a sentence for each of the images, then use the words and sentences to create short stories or poems.

Students could discuss the music and how it fits with the images/why it might have been used, and then what music they would use to “fit” the images.  They might also discuss why some images what coonotations the images have for them and if they fit with the suggested “mood”.

The historic nature of some of the images and music is also of great interest. Some of the photographs and films show just how much society has changed, clothes, cars, entertainment, etc.  Teachers could use this in many classroom activities as well.

Mandatory Internet censorship

 I wanted to post something about this issue on the weekend but I found that I could post nothing but quick  posts. I think that the very bad weather effected my internet connections, as some friends also had problems using internet resources. There are still no pictures or videos for the moment. So here is a post, a little late but nevertheless I wanted to say something.

I found it really interesting that the Australia-wide protest against the government’s mandatory internet censorship plan was not mentioned by the major news networks. Most of the protests in the state capital cities were to begin between 11 am and 12 noon. The weather was terrible in Melbourne on Saturday but there were hardy people who turned up.

I was at a local bookshop, discussing the problems that the Government’s proposed filter may cause, with a young man who works there. He spoke very eloquently against the proposal but had to work rather than be at the protest. I was buying books and finishing up tasks that I had to do. I felt guily that I didn’t go in to the city, as the issue has concerned me for quite a while.  

The Commonwealth government’s plan proposes to introduce filters that would not, for instance, have blocked any of the 15,000 child porn videos and half a million child abuse images uncovered by police in a major operation early last week. The filter can only filter websites, not the traffic on peer-to-peer networks, which seems to me, to be where most of the pornographic material would be found.

The Australian government released a report detailing the results of a trial of six potential filters on the 28th of July this year.

The report included the following statistics:

  • Internet speeds dropped between 21% and 86%. The most accurate filter was also the one with the greatest drop in speed.
  • Content that the filters failed to block ranged from 2% to 13%
  • Content blocked by mistake ranged from 1.3% to 7.8%

This means that there will be many websites blocked by accident, caught up by the indiscriminate filters. These could include those on issues such as sexual health or breast cancer.  Legitimate websites that may be attacked by hackers or spammed with porn will again be blocked, and to unblock them will be near to impossible. Websites that are considered to be supporting criminal activities will be blocked. Good, you may say but this will also block sites that, for example, discuss euthanasia, especially if they are deemed to be supporting it.

Then there is the issue about how short-sighted this policy is when we are preparing our young people to be responsible internet users, good digital citizens, rather than passive sponges, unprepared for, and uncritical of, the global world.

Lauren O’Grady on her All teachers are learners….blog has written several really good postsabout the filters. I replied to her latest blog with this: 

An interesting note is that none of the major media services have said/reported very much on the proposed Government filter/censorship plans. The protest on Saturday did not seem to rate a mention at all? Do they think that this will not have an adverse effect on their own sites? Why are basic civil rights issues not a major issue? Why aren’t there more investigative pieces on what this will actually do? Many of the parents who do not spend much time in the digital world see only the quote “protect the children” but, as we know, there are so many holes in this argument. Filtering in schools is a major “pain in the neck” when you are trying to teach students about responsible and safe use of the resources that could be made available otherwise. So many good/useful sites are sweep up by the filters. How can we get the message out that straight banning/filtering is not the answer but learning about responsible digital citizenship comes from (or should) learning and teaching in a the safe environment of the home and at school. Teaching our young people to be critical and responsive users not passive victims of the vagaries of the internet, is the best way to protect them.

Tania Sheko also wrote a very pertinent comment:

Two things:
If parents (anyone) fall for the sensationalist headlines ‘protect our children’, etc. then education may have failed them in terms of critical reading.

Also,
when I was growing up I attended a Russian language Saturday school within a community of old immigrant Russians whose experiences back in the old country were negative (eg. my great-grandfather shot by communists), and consequently the teachers and parents were paranoid about communism anywhere. I remember a woman spent much of her time censoring our textbooks which inevitably came from Russia, painstakingly gluing pages together or ruling thick black texta lines over words we should never lay our eyes on, eg. ‘soviet’ and ‘pioneers’. We were fascinated and went to great lengths to unglue or look through the light to see the tantalisingly forbidden words.

If, like me you are concerned about what is being proposed, you can go to NoCleanFeed and learn more about the plans and register your concerns.

There is an  official petition is available at http://www.wakinggiant.org/au_censorship.htm. The petition is open to all Australian citizens. Anyone who signs it must add their address, failing to do so may render a signature void. There as also a very good on this site, YouTube video you can watch and link to.

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