Wednesday, March 31, 2010

ADHD - Us or Them?

Before taking this class I had a sneaking prejudice that things like Facebook were making kids unable to pay attention to things. When I tried working on assignments with Pandora blaring and Facebook at the edge of my vision occupying part of my mental space, I felt distracted and like I was not giving my work 100%. Aha! this is what teenagers are like! No wonder they can't stick to anything long enough to find meaning!

But wait. Here I am, a mere two weeks out from FB birth, and already I am bored by it and can't be bothered to log in and figure out who's saying what. Maybe it was the flu that I survived this past weekend and week. Maybe I'm just not social enough. Maybe I am just an old curmudgeon. Maybe I don't care enough about what is happening in Farmville - or even understand why anyone would.

Or - maybe it's us old folks who can't keep up with this stuff and stick to it. Hmmmm. I actually have a newfound respect for the people, young and old, who can mange to schedule this piece of humanity into their day.

Kind of a Grinch like moment.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Under the wire, for what it's worth

10 p.m. on a Sunday night, pushing that midnight deadline for the weekly post.

This week's assignment was an example of why I resist when it comes to tech tools: take ten apps and cram them into a unit. Tech tools are fun, they can enhance learning. And when there's a clear learning goal in mind, and I know of a tech tool that will add to it, it is great fun to do so. But starting from the list of tech tools leaves me cold.

Four or five apps could easily have fit the bill, 10 felt like too much. It reminded me of why this course has been so enjoyable - the ability to fool around with one tool and get an actual feel for it without trying to grasp too much at once. I think the same would go for students and teachers. Perhaps more so. Offer them one or two bells to enhance a unit and give them the chance to really learn how to use those tools and you have likely given them more than if you try to throw too many things their way.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Second Life et al.

How can you not love a class that gives you the option of skipping the position paper and spending time learning how to fly in SL?

I started this week excited and giddy. I told all of my students, hey, this is graduate school! Doing my part for motivating kids to stay in school.

After many frustrating hours, many propositions from wolves and indeterminate beings in costume, I was fleeing people on SL like the plague. My kids, however, had a blast trying mommy's latest assignment, and had a much less creepy experience, using the same avatar and account. I concede. They are a new generation with new habits and abilities. Their experience, and SLJ's enthusiasm, will keep me plugged into SL until I get it. Thank you, Mary. You got it and brought us along, or tried to!

Facebook has been fun. I have avoided it like I avoided cell phones. But it has enabled me, in one week, to catch up with so many long lost friends. And to hear the day to day of people I love but would not bother with daily emails or phone calls. Fabulous.

I love this class.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Multi-tasking 101

Thanks, Barb. Having arrived home from THE WORST WEEK EVER, I am on my MAC with at least four windows open. Listening to Pandora, chatting with people on FB, reading this week's assignments, and making notes for discussion. Now I understand why our kids aren't able to learn anything! :)

But. I feel like I am gaining an invaluable understanding of the teen mindset in this online world of 24/7 connectivity.

And connecting with long lost friends and family.

Fun AND educational! The point, right?

I am intrigued by the ASL's presence on SL and eager to see what the Peoria folks have done on TSL. Where's the article on how to sell to your district?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Facebook, at last.

OMG. I have resisted this for ages. The playground of the young and mindless. Privacy need not apply.

Thank you, Barb. Today I took the plunge, a la the assignment, and started farting around. Who did I want to find? Well, this friend from high school with a ridiculously common name. Impossible to google - believe me, I've spent hours trying.

Within minutes - BOOM! - we are chatting for the first time in 20 years!

I love it. A cure for those of us googling John Smiths in vain.


VoiceThread Attempt #1

Although it did not take long to figure this out, I wish I could figure out my microphone problems as a live voice in comments is so much more interesting. I forgot about the ability to zoom around the photo until it was posted - what fun!

I can imagine a lot of uses for this!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

i Want One!

Being a miserably cold, rainy afternoon in March I decided that my assignment required an hour or so at the Mac store and dragged the family along. We all played with iPhones, iPods, iPod touch, the nano, and the shuffle. Great fun. I was surprised that I could actually imagine affording a few of them.

The shuffle was so cheap, and held more than enough music, but the navigation was lacking. But, so tiny!

The iPod touch was pretty addictive, and my son's favorite, but why not an iPhone then? And could one imagine carrying both around? He'd be happy with the games and music only. Cool, but $300 is pricey.

The iPhone is lovely, like any Mac, but my phone can do just about anything it does, just uglier.

The Nano was my favorite. Video capability, recording as well as playing, tiny and streamlined, and enough space, even in the $150 model, to hold as much as I would want. The hardest part would be deciding on a color. I'm leaning toward hot pink.

On the way home we discussed apps and internet on the go. Again, a pricey addition to life. For me it would require justification beyond, this is cool! I know many people - lawyers, IT, business people - who travel constantly, for whom this would make sense. But as one of those lucky people who is more often than not within twenty feet of my own desk top, I just don't feel the need. I can definitely see the attraction for older students.

Monday, March 8, 2010

High Tech Fix

After checking out the many settings on my computer to ensure all was well, accidentally cutting the power and rebooting, it ended up being a "smack it" type fix. I wiggled all of the wires on my speakers to make sure everything was connecting properly and voila! Fixed.

The perils of working amongst curious, wire-chewing kittens.

Animoto attempt

For some reason I could not hear any of the music - will that change when posted here? Let's see.

Create your own video slideshow at

Uh, no, still can't hear. Back to work.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Big Brother or Millennial?

When many of us took the survey this week to see where we fell on the millennial scale, I found the criteria seriously suspect. Does having multiple body piercings really make you more a part of the millennial generation, or is it a mind set?

Playing with the online apps this week I wondered, was not being millennial why left me cold, or, more ominously in my paranoid mind, was it the fact that I was immediately suspicious of and refused to even play with animoto because it demanded my first and last names, date of birth, and even my zip code? The privacy policy did not reassure. I had the same reaction to StumbleUpon. On one hand, letting some great algorithm find great sites for me based on my use and feedback sounds like fun, on the other, I am reminded of my brother in law's outrage at the way various stores began to track what we were buying in the 90's.

One would think a millennial mindset would be more tuned in to the risks associated with giving out personal stuff online, but maybe not. Then again, I think it is way too soon to be pasting labels on a generation still in the throes of the immortal time of their lives, when sharing your whereabouts and getting yourself tattooed with a passing crush still seem like good choices.

I am definitely veering towards apps that require only an email address and a chosen name.

Cart, horse . . .

The list of online apps to check out this week has left me numb. For the most part my brain kept thinking, when I am confronted with a new app and have to find a use for it, I generally am resistant whereas, if I have a purpose and go looking for an app to fit, I am often enthusiastic. This brings me back to the oft repeated mantra that the learning goal should drive the choice of tech rather than the other way around. With many of the apps, like the ways to play with photos at BigHugeLabs , I am left rather cold when I put myself in student context. Do they love to play with photos? Yes. Does playing with photos necessarily teach them anything? Uh, not so sure.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Maybe I'm just too tired or maybe it's just not my thing, but I'm not sure Flickr is ever going to hold the same place in my heart it does for Richardson.
Maybe if my photos were all perfectly organized on my computer this would have been less painful. Finding the location of specific photos on my desktop was a challenge - the screen Flickr dropped just didn't mesh up and it required finding the specific file # for each pic.
I failed at mapping using Richardson's instructions. And rather than persevere, I stopped. No matter what the picture, I am most uncomfortable with making information about my physical whereabouts public. Fifteen years in the criminal justice system will do that to you.