Sunday, September 6, 2009

Another iWorkshop Part I and a new Part II

Another Part I
We've scheduled another iWorkshop Web 2.0- Just the Beginning for Oct 5-20, 2009. This time, North Cook Intermediate Service Center (NCISC) in Des Plaines, IL will be the host for the first and last meeting (Oct. 5 and Oct. 20 respectively) with the time in between spent collaborating online. Please see for the details of the workshop. Your comments and emails are welcomed. And please register at
The first iWorkshop was in the early summer after the school year was over. This second repeat session  is scheduled in the midst of a school year -- in a different venue. We are hoping to gather a group of 15 participants at NCISC, in DesPlaines, IL.

A new Part II iWorkshop session is scheduled for Oct 22- Oct 29.  The content here will focus on Wiki collaboration and plugin tools to enrich the wiki's content. See for syllabus and other details. Please register at Again your comments and emails are most welcomed.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

First beginning i-Workshop ended

I just finished a workshop yesterday with a group of 13 educators that admittedly were beginners with the Web 2.0 concept and applications. It went much better that I originally thought, but I would attribute that to a great, devoted and patient group of educators. Certainly, they will admit that they did not walk away as experts, but who really can admit that they are experts in Web 2.0 applications -- new apps pop up all the time. I do believe they did walk away with a better sense of time and skills needed to properly utilize these types of tools.

We called this a workshop, where the attendees really participate, contribute and learn from one another (rather than "sit and get" from an instructor). But a small part of the workshop actually happened in the same room, in the standard 6-8 hour time frame. Rather, the bulk of participation was spread over 12 days. Attendees contributed via wiki pages and blogs. So I guess I'm looking for a different name other than workshop... got to work on that. Maybe putting the "i" in front of it making it an i-Workshop is the obvious answer...not very original... suggestions welcomed.

In this i-Workshop, they captured their knowledge as a group much different that they would have in an intense 6-8 hour session. They each had the opportunity to learn and contribute at their own pace, going beyond off the cuff ideas, and being able to share deeper thoughts and concepts to determine which of these types of tools are appropriate for the classroom.

When September rolls around, they won't need to be looking for the scraps of paper where they wrote all these ideas and URLs. They can click on their saved bookmarks, refreshing their minds with the wiki pages to which they all made contributions. The URLs don't need to be retyped into their web browser--a single click on a link of the wiki page will render the great web site discovered in the workshop. Revisiting the recorded discussions they had about their wiki pages also brings back the reasons for the concluded facts.. The results is much richer, because they were not pressured to reach into their minds in an abbreviated 6 hour time frame. In fact, during the final day's face-2-face meeting, they were interested to continue contributions to the wiki

We are looking to do another beginning session and some great ideas for follow-up workshops were discussed... ideas welcomed... so stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Twitter hype -- fact or fiction

Is all this hype about Twitter just a passing fad? By the time we discuss the topic, it will have evolved into something on.

As I am relaxing around the house (and not in front of my computer screen), the cover of the Jun 15th Time Magazine (yep sometimes I turn to the glossy paper device as opposed to the screen and keyboard) caught my eye. There is great article by Steven Johnson about Twitter. The screen and keyboard version is at,8599,1902604,00.html. (Must read to get a better understanding of twitter.

What is interesting is that the article was probably written a few weeks before the Iranian problems, and the use of twitter by Iranians to beat the news blackout. He discusses what is sometimes termed Goverment 2.0 -- how the people can participate in government with the use of Web 2.0 -- with the closing sentence of a paragraph, " I wonder if I could use that [Twitter] to start a political uprising. ". Usually it takes a few years for a futurist's predictions to become reality.

Another strategy

Activity IV is the one for which I have high hopes. I have some different tools and sites listed on the course outline page . And as I have attempted to categorize them, there can be various strategies for utilization. Consider the following strategy:
  1. Create content in a blog and/or wiki,
  2. Develop a hook to build an audience
  3. Expand the written word to multimedia to entertain and address other modalities
  4. Utilize measurement, analysis, and aggregation tools to see how successful your are.

At the center, would be a blog or wiki where one would have the actual detailed content. So, by itself, how does a blogger become "read". People may stumble across the blog via a search engine, but there are other methods to advertise your blog -- there needs to be a hook to build an audience. The first hook that comes to mind is the micro-blogging services like twitter. Another is the social networking sites like Ning and Facebook. One builds a following with these tools by continual references to their blog/wiki URL content. Getting other bloggers to reference your content is most valuable. Making your own comments on other blogs that refer back to yours also builds an audience.
Then its time to use multimedia Web 2.0 tools and sites to address folks that respond better to visual or auditory content. You can embed video and audio clips right into your blog/wiki, or just link to it where it has been downloaded. These can be videos/photos/audio that you have created, or others that support your writings.
So, the last set of tools would be for measurement and analysis. The most immediate measurement is the amount of comments people post to your blog articles. There are other tools available to measure success like the number of visitors.
This blog has a couple tools:
  1. Site meter is a tool that can simply record the number of visits and you can see in the right frame of this blog. The widget used on this blog shows the number of visitors since recording has begun. But, there is much more detail available for analysis, like the number of different visitors, where the visitors are from, weekly/monthly/etc. stats and more.
  2. Whos.Amung.Us is another used on the right. The number displayed is the number of folks currently reading this blog. It also gives daily stats much like site meter. has a few more ideas for tools and how to sue them.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Creating a blog and a commentary

Most blogging services have extensive help content for folks to get started and take advantage of the features offered. As a part of the Blogger help service, they also have a extensive library of screencasts an example of which follows:

Beyond Blogger-- any good blogging service (as well as other Web 2.0 services) should have a good HELP facility. If they don't, folks can't learn how to use them, and they won't. The site will not get the traffic it needs to obtain the advertising dollar$ required for sustainability. And... get the picture?

This leads me to discuss a "tough love" topic. Consider the educator that says "I need someone to show me how something works" vs. the one that uses HELP and other training resources associated with the 2.0 service, to obtain the knowledge. Or the educator that says "as soon as I learn one, another one comes along" vs. the one who does not lock themself into one tool. Finding the tools to meet instructional needs might be a good classroom exercise. The students have the opportunity to direct their own learning and refresh the learning process -- a method to motivate the "digital natives".

The speed of the changes and the additions to the Web 2.0 tools is rapid. In the course of a school year, the features and the user interface of a service may change a dozen times. Dozens of additional tools and sites may being created in that same school year. So how does one keep up. The short answer is Just In Time Learning. The need to know prompts the go and find the knowledge. If we as educators don't know the answer, we have 25-30 (or more) employees that have (or should have) that job description. They are called students. When you need a feature, get them involved. When the tools you have may not meet the need, get them involved to find the right one.

In this day and age, we cannot afford to have the knowledge that kids acquire limited to the knowledge of the adult in front of the room. This certainly goes beyond just tech tools.

Comments welcome ... please be nice (-;

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Nice history of twitter

Bobbie Johnson of The Observer (U.K.) does a great job using the current twittered events in Iran to segway into a well detailed history of the service.

3 years is an eternity in the technology world.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Online Teaching Tips

I am certainly learning on line instruction is so somewhat different than face-to-face. The following site gives all the details and suggestionsCommon sense, however will prevail, I believe it is more work for online sessions the first time -- as with the first time for face-to-face activities, but when comparing the two and given the  the proper commitment for each, the engagement is greater with the online model.