Yesterday I was attending a grad school class, and during a quick question and answer session I found myself on a small soapbox regarding some web 2.0 technologies. Didn't mean for it to happen, it just did and everyone in the class appeared quire responsive to the information I was well… spewing out about. I found myself talking about Darren Draper and Robin Ellis's OpenPD sessions, twitter, "Did you Know 2.0" among other things.
After the class, I had a number of the class members provide me with email addresses, or ask to be kept up to date on new and interesting things out in the webverse (ok, I made that word up… like it?) As opposed to creating an email with some (what I feel are must have resources) I thought that I would blog about them, and point my classmates here.
Now this by NO means is planned to be a complete list, an expansive list, or even dare I say it the "best of the best" but they are good solid resources that should help to guide folks in a direction. Remember there ARE and will always be alternatives. Additionally, Ryan Bretag had an interesting post yesterday about "streamlining" the amount of resources you use.
Here I was using Diigo, Delicious, Google Notebook, and Zotero for my researching, bookmarking, annotating, and sharing. While all strong tools in their own right, it is pretty clear looking at this list that this is what some would call OVER DOING IT!
I am in complete agreement. I have found that as new tools arise, we often keep adding (overwhelming to maintain) or are reluctant to replace due to the effort it took in getting things you have setup. However, I do recommend settling on a set of tools and growing with them until you really outgrow them. So, to avoid feeling overwhelmed, look to see where you feel you need a tool to help simplify what you do, enhance what you do, and or expand what you offer.
On to my choices.
[side note: while writing this post I came to the conclusion that I need to break out each of these resources into separate posts to provide more information as well as links to possible educational uses to add value to the WHY should you add these types of resources to your arsenal of learning and teaching tools.]
Additionally, I wanted to provide a category for each set of resources so if the one I mention doesn't meet your needs you can do a quick search to find another. As an overview, I would recommend getting an online resource for: office applications, bookmarking, photo sharing, RSS newsreader, notebook / annotation, tagging, and social networking. If you look hard at this list, it becomes apparent that most (if not all) of these resources can be handled by offline Microsoft products (IE, Outlook, OneNote, Live Photo Gallery).
The main reason I recommend moving these resources online is for the flexibility it provides YOU the user. I'll come right out and say it… I AM A HUGE FAN OF MICROSOFT, however, that said, I HATE being tethered to one machine (although you will rarely find me without my tablet). With resources floating in the ether you can access them from anywhere there is an internet connection. If you don't think that this is important ask yourself a couple of questions: Have you ever really needed a link that you know you saved on your home or school computer and now you are somewhere else? Have you had your personal computer crash the day before a huge presentation / project was due? Have you wanted to connect with others about a topic but did not know where to begin? Well… yes you need to begin moving into the "cloud."
twitter – By far twitter has become the one tool above all else that all educators should become involved with. A brief description is that twitter is a microblog… your life in 140 characters or less in the moment that it is happening… but it is so much more. It has revolutionized and become a huge piece of my personal learning network. The amount of targeted and useful instructional information I get from my twitter network is staggering. So much so, I have created a folder in my favorites called "Twitter Links to Review" as I cannot get to everything in real-time… feel free to add me to your network my twitter handle is vanishingpoint
Online Office Suites:
Zoho.com is my choice for office productivity in "the cloud." The folks at Zoho have created a HUGE suite of applications that well… all work! Writing, Spreadsheet, Presentations, wikis, project management, databases, an online NOTEBOOK and much more. The biggest reason that I really am taken with Zoho is both the integration of their tool set as well as their focus on collaboration. Additionally, they are continuously expanding their offerings. Did I mention that all of their apps are FREE!
RSS Aggregator (reader):
Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a tremendous way to simplify your processes in searching and gathering information. In short, once a "feed" is setup, information comes to you as opposed to you hunting for it. My choice of RSS Reader is NewsGator. With NewsGator is pull in news stories from around the world as well as educational and instructional blogs. Additionally, most magazine type services (and all search engines) have RSS feeds embeded into their sites that you can tap into. This type is resource allows you to become a "grazer" of information as opposed to a hunter of information. One of my main criteria for an RSS aggregator was that it would function both online and via a mobile device. The majority of time I access NewsGator through my Motorola Q Global via NewsGator Go!. Additionally, NewsGator allows me to "Clip" a post or piece of information that I find valuable and save it permanently. This is huge as it keeps me from having to use an additional service like Furl for that purpose.
I have used Del.icio.us for about a year, and have been very happy ALWAYS having access to my bookmarks and important links. Additionally, with del.icio.us' use of tagging, I don't really have to remember the exact name for resources … just a "category" or idea that I have "tagged" the site link with, and poof it is there… even better, I can pull ALL the resources I have tagged with a certain word at one time… and I can share them, and receive links from others in my personal network. The idea of social bookmarking is not new (we have all shared bookmarks and links with friends in the paper world… del.icio.us brings speed and efficiency to this process. Lee Lefever has a great video that explains social bookmarking well.
Recently there has been a TON of twitter traffic about Diigo. While I have not used it at all, I am beginning to investigate it and its possible uses. Kristin Hokanson wrote an excellent blog post called Dig-ging… Diigo today about the power and value of Diigo which provides compelling reasons to switch and consolidate a number of resources to Diigo… Here is a link to my new Diigo profile.
I absolutely LOVE Flickr! Flickr like others allows anyone to upload photo and share them with family, friends, and or the world. I use the camera in my Motorola Q Global daily, and mms my photos immediately to flickr (and a number of other folks) through my phone. This way my family around the world can see my kids and the things I am getting involved in well… daily! My flickr account is even linked to my blog… look to the left to see what pictures I took today 🙂
If you have used Microsoft OneNote, or have wished that you could move ANY type of information into a digital notebook that you can annotate, enhance, or share, you really need to look at Zoho Notebook. Think of it as a digital three-ring binder that you can put ANY information, resource, tool (live or static) into. You can then collaborate with other on it, or share the entire notebook, a page, or even an object with anyone! You can even publish it for the world to see. Here are a couple of examples from notes that I took during a conference sessions at IL-TCE 2008. Example 1 Example 2 Example 3 (Example 3 shows quite a bit of the capabilities of Zoho Notebook).
This post has grown exceeding long and I an exceedingly tired… If you have thoughts or comments, I am welcome to all views!
Photos from Flickr: Dazed81, just Mike is fine and Lady Ying