Tag Archives: Google

Learning: Just so-oh, pedestrian

What am I learning? Well, the magic fairy didn’t appear; I had no personal tutor over the holidays and my fantasy did not materialize (see post here). I did, however, have a commitment to myself that I would try and PLAY with my learning. I wanted to have time to just “fiddle” and learn some new things. I didn’t want to read a manual (really, spare me) nor any detailed instructions but I was desperate enough to resort to checking out a couple of how-to videos. Then I launched in. For many of you, this list will be just so-oh, pedestrian. But for me it represents pushing my learning curve from where I am now. Some of these are things I wanted to do last summer, but just didn’t get to.  These are small steps, new learning, pushing the boundaries and wanting to understand the multitude of ways and contexts in which professional learning can take place. This is my gig. I think I have a responsibility to dive in.

1. About.Me
One of our Engaging the Digital Learner speakers (I can’t remember who: Dean Shareski? Shelley Wright? George Couros?) said we should really go to this website and grab our name, reserve our spot before someone else did. I was inspired by Ryan Hong’s page and breathed deep seeing Karen Lirenman’s background, however, I could only muster some picture of me with no lipstick riding the trails in Kelowna. Forgive the no lipstick. I am a tomboy at the best of times. And the picture brings back memories of being physical. That is what I love to do. About.me is really just one page on the web that is a visual resume. Think of it as a web-based business card that cuts to the quick about what counts for you. Most of the pages are absolutely stunning (convince me that they did not have professional photographers!).

2. Pinterest
I am not a Martha Stewart kind of person. I do not scrapbook. I had no interest in ever using this particular tool. I actually read that women predominantly use this web tool, which was simply not motivating for me.  However, I decided that I should learn it too, because, here was a place I could keep interesting pictures and quotes. I am fascinated by design, by beautiful pictures and by visual arresting images. I also collect thoughtful quotes. I have files of them…at home, at school. Here was a way to do the same thing electronically. So, I now have an account. Not a big deal. Pretty simple. But what really clinched it was that “Pin it” bookmark on the top of my tool bar. It is just so easy to “pin it.” I have just started so I don’t have many things pinned but you are welcome to check it out here. I do have to say there are some weird things about it. Like, now I have a bunch of friends. I am following people I didn’t know I was following and suddenly people are following me. Let’s be clear, these aren’t real friends but I can live with this as I explore it.

3. A Virtual Book Study:
It was a simple suggestion from a former Helping Teacher (@amnewish). “I am going to do this book study. I thought you might like to try it too.” I am now signed up for the ISTE SIGAdmin discussion of World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students (by Yong Zhao). I have never really been in a book study group and certainly have never done one on-line. I just thought maybe it was time to change that. I have signed up and now will be participating through a CourseSite by Blackboard. That will be new to me too.

4. Google+
During the holiday Tia Henriksen (@TiaHenriksen) sent me an invitation to join Google+. I just thought, “Oh no, please, something else to learn.” Yes, that was my first reaction. But then I thought maybe I should jump in anyway and add it to my list. My 16 year old advised me it was a waste of time. He proceeded to lecture me on how Google + did not live up to all it was promised to be. He explained it received a lot of hype at the beginning but it has faded now. My 16 year old knows everything. I won’t tell you my response back to him. I am now in Google+. My circles are pretty sad but you are welcome to connect with me. We are in the age of connection and I need all the help I can get! I’m not really sure I understand it but perhaps the purpose will become clearer as I forge ahead with it. Is Google+ doing anything for you?

5. Diigo
This was the web tool I really was most interested in learning. Over vacation, I spent a few days in my office cleaning up paperwork and culling files. What I discovered was the many fascinating articles I had read about technology prior to launching our original Innovative Learning Designs projects. Buried deep in those files, I had the articles from Maine, from the Rocky Point school district, from Joe Morelock in Oregon and from Chicago as well. At a recent meeting with Apple representatives, they referenced these places. I had forgotten. Orwell Kowalyshyn (@kowalyshyn) gave me many of these references over two years ago. These districts had informed the development of our own projects. I wanted a way to file these articles electronically so I could have them. I’m in diigo now. I have just started but remember, the first step is the hardest one!

6. For Future Learning:
I did go back to visit my LinkedIn account. I still can’t figure out the advantage of being in there. I am not looking for a job, I don’t need any more relationships (I have enough challenges managing the ones I do have), and I haven’t found any of the discussions useful yet. I also find it a strange thing to invite or connect with people. It seems, I don’t know, just kind of bold. Awkward. I find the same true about Google+. It seems like saying, “I have no friends. Will you be mine?”

There are many more things I need to learn. Some of these things I did because I want to redesign my blog (Shhh! It’s a secret). I have a plan. I have sketched it out. This was part of my learning curve before I get to the redesign.

Did this seem pedestrian to you? Do you have something new you learned? Did it feel like “playing?” And is there some other tool you think I should have learned? Let me know.

The author still wonders, given the multitude of Web 2.0 tools “out there,” what makes the most sense for people such as her? If you were not prone to adopting technology easily, what would be the top five you would recommend as useful to others? Why? She would have liked to have a list (partially vetted by the Teacher-Librarian experts of the digital-highway) to know what would really make the best use of her time.


You Can’t Google This

The greatest challenge is moving beyond the glitz and pizzazz of the flashy technology to teach true literacy in this new milieu. Using the same skills used for centuries—analysis, synthesis, and evaluation—we must look at digital literacy as another realm within which to apply elements of critical thinking.

Jones-Kavalier & Flannigan

Often I get the question from educators, “How can I teach in a classroom with students having a variety of their own devices?” This new reality of giving students the flexibility and choice to bring in their personal learning devices really gives us the opportunity to address how we can improve the learning environment for students. We need to build a culture of ethical use of devices with our students and build assignments that give students choice on how they will deliver their learning to us. It is not the poster project that is the problem but the better question that we need to either form with or pose to our students. Are we giving them “non-googleable” questions that inspire them to explore concepts or are we just asking them to cut and paste their way to graduation? The sea of devices in a classroom forces us to embrace our role as facilitator of knowledge in a community of learners. Are we going to embrace the possibility to improve education for our students with these new tools? Digital devices are just that, another tool that will stretch and expand learning in the student/teacher toolbox. Teachers need professional development in the potential of digital devices and the cloud and students can help in this learning. In the end, an innovative, open teacher is really our best app.

This guest post features Lisa Domeier de Suarez (@librarymall), Helping Teacher (Teacher-Librarian & ICT) for the Surrey School District.  She supports Teacher Librarians as they provide educational leadership through their collaboration with teachers to promote creative, professional learning in schools. Her post originally appeared as a comment in response to Chris Kennedy’s blog on After Personally Owned Devices .