Monday, January 18, 2010

Getting too comfortable with your PLN or Social Network: Colorful Acronyms

Is it possible for one to get too comfortable with their PLN or Social Network? If the past few weeks are any indication, I would have to say yes. So what exactly am I suggesting here? Well it's just an observation, but I am often surprised by tweets and or Facebook status updates that contain colorful acronyms or a missing letter from certain 4 letter words from professional colleagues, friends, and others. Now I am not guilty of using colorful language but I am particularly careful where, when, and with whom.  As role models for our children, students, and young faculty we must be vigilant and remind ourselves that our digital footprint extends much further than our PLN, friends, or followers.

So, is it necessary to use these acronyms or replace a letter so the profane word is not "obvious"?  I hope it is not because it reminds me of the message I convey regularly to my students and my own children. If you get comfortable using language a certain way, it becomes more difficult to control when it should or should not be used  and I believe the same is true with tweets and status updates.

The Bugs Bunny cartoons figured this out a long time ago.  There was no need to use an acronym or "misspell" the term, they kept the meaning hidden but it was still an exclamation. Now, I really respect my PLN and friends on FB but I can't help but wonder why it persists.  Our audience is much larger than we can ever imagine which means we must avoid this pitfall and not get too comfortable with our PLN or social network.  Young people struggle enough with the concept of knowing your audience, so let's avoid giving them mixed messages because the acronyms and misspellings are not fooling anyone.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Virtual Spanish Immersion

In a couple of weeks, our 8th grade Spanish students at St. Christopher's School will be participating in a new curriculum that provides a form of immersion that does not require visiting a Spanish speaking country.  According to Fran Turner, Director of International Studies and 8th grade Spanish teacher, it is an opportunity for our students to be paired up virtually with another school in Colombia in an effort to offer our students structured interaction with native speakers on a regular basis.  Please take a moment to watch the interview with Fran as she describes this wonderful opportunity, which was made possible by a grant from the Bowles Endowment for Innovation and Creativity in Education  at St. Christopher's School.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Quietube: Video without the distractions

Today I learned about a new script that removes the sometimes unsavory and or distracting content that can surround a Youtube video.  Quietube is a website that has a script in the form of a button that can be dragged to your toolbar similar to Diigolet. To activate quietube, simply go to the video you wish to view and click on the quietube button on your toolbar.

To illustrate my point, students at our school created a wonderful parody of Miley Cyrus's Party in the USA video.  It became quite viral on campus but soon inappropriate comments started to appear and some unrelated and potentially problematic videos also appeared. The comment section has since been tidied up in the before image but one can see a video about a violent protest. The after image as one can see, has none of the distractive material that surrounds the before image.  And if things couldn't get better, the script also provides a shortened url which can be posted or forwarded without fear of what might appear when one goes directly to Youtube.

Before quietube:

After quietube:

According to quietube, it also works with the BBC iPlayer, Viddler, and Vimeo.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

123, ABC, TCP/IP, and now PLN-the power of your personal learning network

Our school is seriously considering replacing our desktops for a more mobile approach.  We've tossed around the idea of netbooks throughout the fall and I've been the guinea pig with my Acer Aspire One.  (See my post/review of this netbook here.)  I've run this netbook through some pretty rigorous use and our tech department seems satisfied that these devices can handle just about any classroom app we can throw at it.  The only exception however seems to be in the area of video production but I have yet to try anything beyond a standard Youtube length.

With our concerns about the netbook's firepower behind us, we needed to look into the sturdiness, network connectivity, and mobility of these devices.  We looked at the Acer, HP, Asus, and Dell netbooks and we found that the Dell seemed to fit our needs the best.  Our next step was to contact another school that uses the Dell Latitude 2100 with the cart to validate what we thought was going to be a good match for us.

Now as an avid twitterer, I've been tweeting away about our thoughts to Dell Latitude 2100 and sure enough, @bkolani aka Basil Kolani from the Dwight School in NYC replied via twitter that his school deployed 5 netbook carts in the fall of 2009.  So we set up a Skype session where several members of our tech department were able to ask specific questions about their experience not only with the netbooks but the cart itself.

If interested, one may listen to our Skype conversation here.  It is unedited so be patient in the opening seconds.

After the Skype session our tech department was relieved that many of their ideas regarding the new direction had been validated.

There is nothing better than having a member of your PLN validate the potential direction and financial investment our school will be considering and for that I am truly grateful.

Dave Warlick's Picture of his Personal Learning Network