Bring Buzz to Edu Apps

Google Buzz has been out for a while now and has been slowly making its mark on the social-networking scene. As I’ve been investigating Buzz (a.k.a. playing with it…but investigating sounds so much more important!) and how it changes social-networking, it hit me the other day how this might just be the communication tool I’ve been looking for in schools ever sense Twitter came out. I’m hoping that Google brings Buzz to the Education Apps soon. There are a lot of schools (including mine) that are embracing Google Apps and taking a serious look at using the set of tools as the default mail, calendar, contacts, docs application for the school. Doug Johnson has been writing about Google Apps a lot lately and his latest post is a must read if your district is considering the move. I don’t know about your school but at my last two schools the ALL MAILS that get sent around are frustrating to many. Like a lot of schools teachers already get close to 100 e-mails a day and adding a couple ALL MAILS that are someone looking for this book or that supply, someone who lost their keys, or a jacket for a trip to cold weather (OK….this one might be Bangkok specific). You name it, it’s probably come through in an ALL MAIL. There has to be a better way to handle these right? Like many schools ISB created a “Public Folder” that was suppose to be a place for people to post such requests. The problem is nobody goes there unless they know that something new is there to look at, but how do you let people know there is something new…..you got it….you send an ALL MAIL. It’s a frustrating circle that Google Buzz might just solve. Think about having a Buzz type program running at your school. A place that you check off and on to see the “back channel” of your school. The latest social gatherings, the 1st grade teacher looking for Paper Towel tubes for a project. or the high school teacher sending a reminder about the art show. What if the school used Buzz as a social back channel. That was there, but not in your daily inbox. A place to share resources, links, and have conversations as a school community. As excited as I am to see Google Groups get added a couple weeks...

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A blog post, a tweet, a connection

I have to share this story with you if for no other reason….I’ve shared it with anyone that would listen to me at school today. I believe this story shows the power of: 1. What can happen when we allow students to be “out there”.2. What happens when our teachers become networked and can bring that network to their students.3. That through connections educational possibilities are endless! This couldn’t have come at a better time with Clint H leaving a comment on my last post about a conversation he had with his IT Director: He has some very persuasive arguments for his ‘walled garden’ approach (including “nobody ever reads public blogs anyway so what’s the difference?”) Really….nobody reads public blogs anymore……..please read on! So here’s how the story of connections played out last night. 1. I do a lesson in one of our 5th grade classrooms where we have a great discussion around what it means to blog, what good blogging looks like, and the difference between leaving a comment and a compliment. We also learn how to add an image to our post and how to add a link. Following the teachers lead based on this blog post, the students homework is to write a reflective blog post about the science experiment they did and what they learned. I leave the room with this challenge: I will read all your blog posts tonight and the best ones I’ll send out for the world to read. Of course they no nothing of the 4700+ Twitter followers I have or the 400+ Facebook friends. Nor should they care…what is important here is that their teacher is connected into a wider community to help foster a global audience. 2. Late last night I visited the classes netvibes page and started going through the student’s blog posts leaving comments on everyone of them. I was proud to see that most everyone’s blogging had improved from before our lesson and some students had really taken the time to sit down and write out their thoughts. One such student was Haley who wrote out the experiment that the students had done in class. A great little bit of procedural writing (writing connection). I decided that this was one of the top 5 posts in the class and sent a link to her blog post out on Twitter and to my Facebook Friends asking them...

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EdubloggerCon 2009 Reflections

Last year I was pretty critical of EduBloggerCon. For me it was too big, too scripted, and…well…you can read the post. This year….smaller, deeper, and more thoughtful. Exactly what I was hoping for and personally what I need to push my own thinking. It was one of those days where you went to one but watch others via Twitter. You wanted to go to all the sessions…and in some ways you did via the conversations that happened between the actual sessions. Last year I said it was too big…around 250 people. This year around 75 people….not a bad size. Last year it was to scripted….this year it was flexible, adaptable, and conversation based. Not adaptable enough for my taste but that was due more to the people that went than the organization of the sessions. With empty sessions all over the wiki, nobody should complain that the conversation wasn’t what they needed. If you wanted a conversation the spots were available to put up a topic. I did just that wanting to discuss the changes that are happening with blogging because of Twitter and this whole “live stream” service (more on that later). So….here are my take aways from EduBloggerCon 2009 Best Practice of PD (My live notes)A great session that had a group of about 30 break into smaller groups, discuss ideas on what worked at our schools and then came back together to share as a group. We came to the same conclusions that it seems we always end up at: Getting administrators on board is key You have to meet teacher where they are There are different approaches, no one right model/way to shift teachers Change is hard Change is frustrating Build Your Own Tool (My notes)A great session that allowed us all to dream about the tool we would create if we had a coder. That’s exactly what Mark Wagner wanted out of the session and has had success with when he rents a coder to create applications for him. Where School Reform Meets Madonna:This session was too deep for me to even take notes on….I was too busy thinking about the conversation that was going on. It was a great intense hour with one liners that filled twitter faster than any single one person could type. My take away….or just good reminder…came from Scott McLeod when he reminded me that kids that are 14,15,16...

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Get Twitter off the web and on your desktop

Yes, I have once again changed my Twitter Desktop App…and yes I’ll probably change again in the future. That’s part of why Twitter is so much fun. You get to explore, try new ways of looking at your data, your searches, your stream of information. Twitter is a playground to me. It has been since I started using it in 2007 (man that seems so long ago!). It’s been fun to watch it grow over the past couple of years and hit the mainstream in the past couple of months. I’m excited to see where it goes, but in the mean time let’s keep playing! I downloaded the Seesmic Desktop Application a couple weeks ago and had a play with it. I enjoyed my time with TweetDeck and still haven’t uninstalled it, but after Kim had me try Nambu which is a Mac specific Twitter Desktop App, it sent me on a search for a new one. Many people don’t get Twitter. Even after signing up for an account people still have a hard time understanding how it works, or why you’d want to use it. I think using a desktop app is the only way to truly understand Twitter and use it successfully. Because Twitter has gone mainstream it makes it a nice news feed, friend feed, and information silo. Using a desktop app like Seesmic allows you to create groups of users, follow search terms, and keep track of a lot of different content easily. Seesmic has a great set of videos to get you started. For example I have a column that follows any mentions of the Mariners (it is baseball season after all!). I have a couple different columns of users. People often ask me how I keep up with so many followers. My answer is simple….I don’t. I quit trying to keep up with them a long time ago and instead I’ve taken a data mining approach to Twitter and I’ve created groups that work for me. I have a group called “My PLN” if you’ve in education and you’ve shared a link that I’ve enjoyed or happened across you get put into this group (2 clicks and 2 seconds). I have a group called “My Peeps” these are my close friends and colleages I work with. It allows me to keep a close eye on say Dennis Harter my colleague and what he’s...

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Networked Thinking

All three of my presentation here at ETC09 continue to hit on the point of creating a PLN you can trust and find ways to use. It’s so powerful…..but it’s hard to explain just how powerful of a learning tool it is without having people really get in there and get their hands dirty. So today I found a new use for my PLN. Every time I try something this like I’m amazed at the help and response I continue to receive from educators around the world who are willing to jump and help out at the drop of a hat. So here’s the story of today: Although Borneo is amazing their Internet connection is…well…should we say inconsistent and slow. It’s up and down, completely unreliable, and frustrating to say the least. The one service that seems to run without fail is Twitter. I’m not sure if it’s the small packet size or what but Twitter continues to run while the rest of the web comes to a screeching halt (I never that we’d see that happen!). So this morning I’m preparing for my presentation and go to edit the wiki page I had created for my “Digital Tools for Digital Educators” session. The Internet was running really slow and with only two hours to go before my presentation I was getting worried that I wouldn’t have anything preloaded. So I used the one tool that worked….Twitter. I sent out a call to anyone with a good Internet connection to please go and add a must have tool for educators. An hour later I have enough tools to fill my 90 minute session and then some. Complete with YouTube how-to videos, examples of use in the classroom, and much more. http://etc2009.wetpaint.com/page/Digital+Tools Now I’m part of this network, and I understand that this is exactly how it’s suppose to work, but it still amazes me! I started my presentation today in a room of 50+ educators by thanking educators around the world who two hours before had just created my presentation. I talked about how this came to be and just how amazing this was going to be that these 50 people were actually being taught by teachers around the world…..I just happened to be the voice for them all. It was great to see people coming up to a whiteboard that was in the room and writing down the...

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