Saturday, September 18, 2010

Module 3 - Social Networking in Education

Getting Into the Blog-o-sphere
You have already entered the blog-o-sphere by beginning to follow some bloggers.  What did you learn?  What comments did you leave on the bloggers' postings?  Did you get any responses back from anyone? 

Now that you have reviewed the postings of accomplished bloggers, what do you think?  Was it useful? How could you make blogging useful to you?

It is time for you to create your own blog-o-sphere identity. You will begin by creating a blog and then begin to share your ideas, experiences and resources. In the past we have said that blogging involves Reading, Commenting, and Writing/Creating.  You have already had the opportunity to read and comment.  Let's hope that you continue with this enthusiasm as you embark on your blog writing/creating experience.

Remember to read Disrupting Class: pp. 43 - 86

Writing is the key to it all. This is where you can share your ideas with world. It is where you have to confront your thoughts. I once had a professor (Dr. David Moursund) who told me that he didn't know how he felt about a topic until he had written about it. Writing requires you to organize your ideas so that you can express them in a clear and cogent manner.
1. First thing you must do is create a blog. We use Google's Blogger as the standard because it is quick and easy, but you can use whichever blog you would like. Just remember that it needs to be accessible to the world.

Here is a 2-minute video on how you can create your first Blogger account. 

2. Your blog will be enhanced if you add a few gadgets to it. I would suggest that you add: 1) Subscribe to (allows others to subscribe to your blog); 2) Labels (lists the labels you have added to your postings); and 3) Stats (shows how frequently people visit your website.)  Here is a video that will show you how to add these three gadgets to your blog.  

3) Now that you have the easel, it is time for you to share your ideas.  This is where you get to reflect upon the blogs you have been reading for the past couple of weeks.  Here are some things that I want you to review:
  • Review the names of the blogs you have been reading.
  • Explain what each of them discuss?  
  • Have you found them to be as interesting as you expected?  Why?
  • Have you found a common theme between them?  Is there a general reason why you selected them?
  • What have you found to be the attributes of these blogs that have been effective in making them interesting and useful?
REMEMBER!!!  This is NOT in an enclosed eLearning discussion group that ONLY Dr. Z will read.  It is in the public. All of your classmates will be reading it. People in the public may read it.  DON'T write it like you are answering this writing prompts on a test.  Write it in a manner that will interest your colleagues.
You MUST read all of your classmates' postings and thoughtfully respond to them by the end of the module. 
Here are some hints for making effective postings.  You may have found some other ideas about what makes a posting interesting.
  • Begin with an active title. (i.e., Making Your Blog Postings More Interesting; 5 Ways to Extend Your Summer Vacation; How Blogs Changed the Writing Process in my 10th Grade English Class; or ????)
  • Include an image or photo of some sort.  You can find a wealth of photos you can use (as long as you cite them as I have done below) at Flickr/CreativeCommons  (
  • Always include at least 2 links to something relevant on the web. This means that when you discuss the Dr. Z Reflects and Clif's Notes blogs, you must have links to those websites so that your reader can examine them.  It is similar to the APA citations you have to do in your research papers, only it is MUCH easier to include.
  • Your postings must have depth and that is more than can be captured on the single page.  Writing a post can be a small research project that will provide readers a deeper understanding of the topic.  This depth is provided by the additional links you provide your readers.
  • End your postings with questions to elicit responses from your readers.
So how do you see yourself using blogs in your future teaching/training careers?
Twitter and TweetDeck 
Twitter is an important form of communication.  It seems to be used more in the professional world (Facebook fills that person niche for social networking.) Instead of making this page unduly long, I have created a Blogger Page and dedicated it to Twittering. This is a new capability of Blogger. The nice thing about this is that I don't have to deal with it as a dynamic blog post.  It is also available for linking from anywhere on the Web in case you want to use it in another form.  Only limitation is that you can only have 10 of these pages per blog.

Go to the Twitter Page and then come back here to see what needs to be done.


Create these columns in TweetDeck:
  1. Create a column that will follow our list of class twitter-ers: eitf2010
  2. Create a column that will follow the hashtag: #UNI_IT
  3. CHALLENGE: Create a column that will follow tweets about a specific area of interest to you. I am not going to tell you how to do this. You need to search the web or twitter or YouTube to find out how to do this.
RSS and Your Personal Learning Network
Another problem with seemingly endless amount of information on the web is trying to get to it.  Each time you want to read the blogs you have selected, you have to click on the bookmark you have created and then go to the blog to see if there are any new postings. Sometimes there aren't.  WHAT A PAIN!!!!!

Wouldn't it be easier if we could just subscribe to these blogs so that they would come to us like a magazine in the mail?  Well folks, we CAN!!!!  We use the magic of RSS.  RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication (RSS).

Wondering about RSS?
Read What the Heck IS RSS?  - (a 2-page description on CopyBlogger)

Watch RSS in Plain English - (a 3-minute video on YouTube)

RSS allows us to be connected to the world. Think how this could change the structure of education. Here is video explaining how a teacher and students used RSS to create a student-centric learning environment.

The Networked Student -  a video that tells a true story about how a student used a Personal Learning Network (PLN) to develop a network of resources for his learning.

Beginning Your iGoogle/Personal Learning Network
Now that you have seen what's possible with a well-developed personal learning network, it's time for you to create your own. There are many programs used to collect resources through RSS.  These are called aggregators because they aggregate RSS feeds.

Teachers create PLNs to organize resources for themselves and ultimately their students. Art Titzel, an 8th grade Amarican Cultures teacher, explains in his blog how he created and maintains his PLN. How I Built My Personal Learning Network (PLN)

For this class, we will use iGoogleiGoogle is available to anyone who has a Google account. Below is an introduction to creating your own iGoogle-based PLN.

The iGoogle Online Tutorial Part 1 - a 9-minute introduction to setting up your iGoogle account. Watch this and then set up your iGoogle account.  Use this video to begin creating your own iGoogle page.
Begin Creating Your Own PLN - a short video that describes how you can create a tab on your iGoogle page completely dedicated to your classmates' blogs.This process can be used to create an RSS link to other blogs and resources throughout the web.

Blogs You Need to Subscribe to:
  1. Classmates' Blogs - Go to our Student Contact wiki and find the links to your classmates' blog. Use the subscribe buttons on their blogs to subscribe to them through iGoogle.  These blogs need to be in the blog tab that you just created.
  2. Professional Blogs - You have been following blogs. Link to them so that you can keep up on them.
Read the Blogs:
  1. Read Your Classmates' Blogs - You are expected to read ALL of your classmates' and comment on them. Check your PLN every day. Keep up on this.
  2. Read the Professional Blogs - Keep up on these blogs as well. You will expand your connections as you comment and reply to these bloggers.

TweetDeck and iGoogle are personal systems that only you can review.  This doesn't mean that you shouldn't complete this assignment.  You WILL be held accountable.

In the next module you will be asked to use Jing (same free software that I use to create the quick tutorials that i have been using in this RWLD) to create a video tour of your resources.The specifics will be included in Module 4.


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