Category Archives: Del.icio.us

Give a Little; Get Back a Lot


Recently, I had blogged about how to create Big Data Sets.

At the core of the post was reference to the website generatedata.com.  For Computer Science teachers, this can be a real timesavers.  Rather than create significant test data files, use the utility here to generate data for you … lots of data.

It comes back with big value for me!

It ended up being included in a Pearltree by drbazuk.  By following the link, it opened up a huge collection of resources about big data!

The point of this post is to pay it forward to my readers.

If you’re looking for articles, resources, or discussion about big data, check out this Pearltree.  Make sure you tuck it away in your Diigo, Delicious, Pocket, or Evernote account for future reference.

Powered by Qumana

 

Business to Education


I have a favourite line in a Murray McLauchlin album – “We’re all in sales”.  I guess that it’s not always immediately obvious.

But nowhere in education is it more obvious than in blogging.  From the youngest blogger to the most experienced, we’re all selling something.  Usually, it’s ideas and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.  In fact, the more that we realize it, the more forceful our posts should be.

I had bookmarked this infographic quite a while ago but reference to it came across in a reading this morning.   Infographic: Your Blog Post Promotion Checklist

The checklist is written from a business blogging perspective but with a little change in the wording, could apply equally as well in education.  The original blog post appears here.  Thanks to DIVVYHQ for the post  Micaela Clarke for the original infographic.

I would suggest the following changes to make it work for education.

  1. Proofread your writing.  Is it powerful enough and are there tags and words that would allow people doing a Google search to find your blog post?
  2. Post a link to your blog on your class’ Facebook page and on the class Twitter account.
  3. Shorten your link using bit.ly or tinyurl so that it’s easy to type.
  4. Create a short summary of your post for easy reading and to encourage people to read the entire post.
  5. Make sure you have a great title to your post and display it on your class wiki with a link to your blog post so that people can easily find it.
  6. Do you have a Diigo or Delicious account to bookmark class things?  If so, post a link and short summary with tags so that you and others can easily find it later.
  7. Make comments on your classmate’s blogs or other blogs.  Usually, you’ll have to provide an email address and a link back to your blog.  Great advertising.
  8. Share on Twitter! Does your class collaborate with another one?  Get them to read your blog post.
  9. At the bottom of your email, put a link to your blog post so that everyone who gets an email from you can find it.  You can usually have this done automatically.
  10. Do you know another school in your town or city?  Let them know about your great post.
  11. Does your teacher send a newsletter home to your parents?  Make sure that the address to your blog is included in the newsletter.
  12. Get your teacher to share your blog with her/his Twitter account.  Make sure they include #comments4kids so that even more people can find you.

Any additional suggestions?

Having students create their own infographic with tips would make for great artwork around the classroom and to reinforce the concepts.

What Does Learnist for PD Mean?


I’ve been keeping a lot of resources for a long time.  I felt the need to do so when I had a computer at home and a computer at work.  It was then that I realized that bookmarking a link on my computer was a pretty limiting activity.  Even more limiting was bookmarking different resources on different computers and then trying to remember where the heck I left it.  Surveying the online landscape, I realized that there were a number of better solutions.  I chose to use a service called Backflip.  It served me well.  I could bookmark things as I found them and then it didn’t matter at all what computer I used to access them.  This was good, very good.  The process was exceptionally good when I realized that I could share the resources with people who weren’t me!  All that I had to do was give them the public address to my resources.

Sadly, Backflip went out of business.  So, I went looking for a replacement and found Delicious.  This had the same good features as Backflip and continued to add more to it.  I think that it was Delicious that first impressed upon me the importance of tagging things so that they could be accessed later in a quick and meaning manner.  Before that, I would organize resources by subject.  That made cross-subject or them categorization difficult.

Delicious also allowed me to post links that I’d found automatically to this blog.  That was even better.  I’m really all about automation when I can swing it.  Not too long ago, Delicious was cut loose by Yahoo! and it looked like the end was near.  Fortunately, I’d been playing around with Diigo not only because of its bookmarking abilities but because of the classroom feature built into it.  Diigo posts nicely to my blog, it can post automatically to Delicious so that I have an automated backup.  This is very nice.

During presentations, I can create a group to share with participants if I have a bunch of links to support my talk.  It’s also a great way to make documents available for the same sort of activity.

Recently, along comes a new service called Pinterest.  This is very intriguing.  Rather than just a link to a resource, you’re asked to select an image on the page being pinned.  Within Pinterest, there’s a huge activity of sharing pins and resources.  Couple that with following others and you have a rather dynamic and attractive environment.  Pinterest, in fact, has  exploded in popularity.  I have experimented with a number of ways of using it and really like what I’m finding.  On the other hand, Pinterest is so popular for way more than education.  By following pins, it’s easy to get very, very lost!

Then, recently a service called Learnist comes along.  It’s still in its infancy; you need to ask for an invitation or get invited to join.  You log in with your Facebook account once you’re granted access.  But, once in, it seems at this point to be the best of all the worlds for education.  Devoted strictly to education, there are far fewer random detractors in its operation.

While you’re waiting for your account, you can explore most of what Learnist has to offer.  Just select a category from the ribbon at the top of the page.  You can go directly to “Education” from here, for example.  Explore the results and you’ll see bookmarks, you’ll see the ability to “like” a resource, you’ll have the ability to follow people; and you’ll have the ability to add your own comments to the entry.  Once you have your own account, Learnist provides you with a bookmark button to easily tuck away a bookmark while you’re browsing the web.

learnist

From what I’m seeing, Learnist has “it all” – or at least whatever “all” means as of this writing.  The highly attractive and feature filled environment pack a great deal of educational potential.  One of the best professional learning activities that one can do for oneself is to read and reflect.  Reading is easy; reflecting when you’re reading on the web means revisiting resources when necessary.  By bookmarking it on Learnist, you have that functionality.  But, it goes further.  For professional learning, you can create your own “board” of selected resources to share with your audience.  And, if your audience is students, share it with students!

Learnist is the newest of all the resources I’ve look at in this genre.  In my world, it hasn’t replaced anything yet.  I still like my Delicious and Diigo accounts and all that they generate.  I see Learnist as another level for another application of bookmarking for professional learning.  It’s interesting to note that even the term “bookmarking” is starting to sound dated in favour of the newer term “curating”.

I think this service is one to keep your eye on.  It definitely has a smaller target audience that the whole computer using web – us!

8 Weeks to Web 2.0


Do you want to learn about Web 2.0 this summer?

Probably not, right?  You know all about it and that’s why you’re reading this blog.  You’ve got it nailed.

But, you probably know or work with someone who needs to be brought up to speed on what this is all about.  Maybe you’re tired of explaining once again the value of connections and publishing to the web.  Or, you’ve got a teaching partner that you’d like to prep for projects for the fall.

You know that it’s pretty tough to get up to speed with a one or two hour workshop over the summer.  A couple years back, I used to run a mini-course for educators called “An Introduction to Web 2.0”.

For a bigger reach, I took the various topics and put them together in an online, self-paced course.  Consisting of eight sessions, I took into the fact that most teachers have tonnes of things to do over the summer but could perhaps devote some time every week for a little online learning.  Hence the name “8 Weeks to Web 2.0”.

So, if you start the first of July and devote a little time each week, you should be good to go for September!

Now, we know this can’t possibly be all-inclusive, but I think it’s a darn good start towards learning, understanding, and hopefully applying some of the important tools available on today’s web.

Syllabus

  • Week 1 – Upgrade Your Web Browser
  • Week 2 – Get a New Email Account
  • Week 3  – Get a Delicious/Diigo Account
  • Week 4 – Get a Twitter Account
  • Week 5 – Read Some Blogs
  • Week 6 – Start Your Own Blog
  • Week 7 – Listen to Some Podcasts; Create Your Own
  • Week 8 – Exploration of Other Web 2.0 Functionality

The Cost?  – Free

Check it out and pass the link along to anyone you think might benefit from this resource.  It’s located on my Professional Development Wiki here.

When you want more than tabs…


I’m a real collector — of web browsers.  Any computer that I own has a nice collection so that I can always test anything with a variety of browsers.  It lets you get to the end experience for any resource that you publish to the web so that I can make sure that no matter how somebody visits my site, they’re going to get a decent experience.  I’m also in search of the absolutely perfect, drop dead browsing experience.

The iPad is no different.  I’m in search of the perfect browser and so have an entire folder devoted to browsers that I’ve tried out looking for the perfect combination of features.

Here’s my current collection.

Photo 2012-02-26 6 19 27 PM

It all started with the desire to get something that suits me better than the Safari that comes with the iPad.  Long before the current incarnation, I was in search of a browser that would give me some tabbed browsing.  If you’re a user of different browsers on the iPad you may recognize the titles.

This past week, I took a different angle when I downloaded and played around with the Side by Side browser.  It takes the notion of accessing different websites at the same time via tabs into a different direction.  Instead of separate tabs for browsing windows, this browser splits the screen a number of different ways.  In the image below, I’ve split my screen into four to show off my Twitter, Facebook, Diigo, and Delicious accounts.

Photo 2012-02-26 6 11 25 PM

My original thought was that this was kind of small until I realized that each was roughly the same browsing real estate that one would have if you were using an iPod Touch.  But here, I’ve got four of them.  I took to this approach surprisingly easily.  This tabbed browsing dude liked seeing all the screens at once.  I also realized that when I use a tabbed browser, I have a habit of forgetting about an open tab.  I started using it and really liked what I’ve got.  Tapping in a window makes it active and you can scroll around.  A double tap expands the contents for easier reading – although you do need to scroll around a little more.  When you need a little more real estate, click on the little dot in the centre to reset the intersection point.  So, you aren’t necessarily locked into equal sized windows.  In fact, if you need the room, flip immediately to full screen!  You’ve got all the standard tools like browsing forth and back, reload, and a collection of favourites already seeded with some great starting points.

So, having the split windows was enough to make me consider this as a browser of choice.  A built in notebook and screen grab adds to the excitement but I’m over the top when I tap the “Open In…” button.

Photo 2012-02-26 6 12 17 PM

Access to these things on my iPad have me salivating thinking about the productivity this affords.  You can imagine how fickle I can be due to browsers given my collection.  For the time being at least, this one has me really excited.

When to Tweet?


I originally tried out SocialBro just to see what it’s all about.  After all, in a data driven world, you can’t have enough data, right?  <tongue in cheek>  I did have a purpose at first; I was looking for a utility that would let me know when someone unfollows me on Twitter.  At the time, it seemed important to know and I vindictively would return the action.

As it turns out, I still use SocialBro to tell me who has recently unfollowed me but now I take the time to look at the user and hypothesize why they did so.  I’ve come to the conclusion that there are a lot of people that are using services to follow in a block and then weed out those that post content of little interest to them.  Most of the unfollows make sense but it still hurts a bit when an educator unfollows.

But, as I started to use SocialBro, I started to poke around and find that there is so much more than just a list like that.  One of the realities of using a Social Network like Twitter is that you really live the moment.  It’s interesting to see that the interactions that I get tend to be shortly after I post.  I currently post to my blog at 1am to share the links of interest I’ve Diigoed/Delicioused the previously day and 5am for my hand created blog entry.  The logic that I used was that I didn’t want to be spamming others’ Twitter stream during prime time thinking that most people would be following new entries via RSS anyway.  And, if nothing else, it would be something to read while having your morning coffee.

Speaking of morning coffee, my routine is to wake up and proofread my own post from the previous evening and then to open Zite to do some morning reading.  If there’s something that I think others might enjoy, I post it to Twitter and also have started add them to a Pinterest pinboard.  Some of what I’m sharing is of interest to others and I’ll see folks favourite or retweet those messages.

I thought that I had it made…..until I started to pay attention to another section of SocialBro.  There’s a whole section dedicated to suggesting when the best time to tweet might be.  SocialBro presents a very interesting representation of when YOU, my followers, are online.

The graph shows hourly when people are doing what they do.  The biggest dot, as you’ll see, is Wednesday at 1pm.  38% of my followers are active at that time.  Based on that statistical data, SocialBro makes the following recommendation as to when I should tweet if I want the maximum reach.

BTW, you folks who are online at midnight on Friday nights had better be checking in with FourSquare otherwise, get a life!

Back to the topic, it looks like my 1am and 5am theories are shot all to pieces if I’m a)  looking to reach people when they’re online and b)  I’m making the assumption that people are drawn to the blog by a Twitter notification.  On the other hand, maybe all my followers are scheduling their own tweets to create an alibi or something and aren’t really online when the graph says they are.  Time can be a great illusion – I still have people who think I’m up at 4am to blog.

At the end of the day, I do wonder if this isn’t over analyzing things but it has been fun to think about.  It might even be interesting to reschedule the automatic blog postings and then follow the analytics on WordPress to see if the theory holds. 

Thoughts?  When should messages be sent?  As they happen or should one try to be strategic about it?

Powered by Qumana

Getting More Comfortable with Pinterest


Today, I spent a little more time learning about how Pinterest works.  I think I’m starting to see the way that it might fit into my personal routine.  At present, I’m using:

  • This blog where I record my own original thoughts, share resources, or to comment on others;
  • Diigo to bookmark resources as I find them;
  • Posterous to tuck away interesting images and infographics;
  • Delicious to backup Diigo;
  • Amplify as a resource to save links that I want to comment on before sharing them and bookmarking them to Diigo.

Part of my reading routine is to take resources that I find, typically from my Zite reader, and send them to Twitter.  From there, I revisit the content and then tuck it away into one of the above locations.  It all has worked very well for me and I’m quite comfortable with that.  But, it’s something that works uniquely for me.

As I look at this routine, I see Pinterest as a way to organize and to extend what it is that I’m doing.  As for organizing, I’ve created a board on Pinterest called “Stories I’ve Zited“.  With this, I’m able to take the resources that I’ve found with Zite and put them in one spot.  What’s unique about the presentation from Pinterest is its ability to identify one graphic/media element from an article and make it part of the content that’s pinned.  It’s a very good visual but now becomes part of a collection.

I’m thinking that the visuals will allow me to more easily backtrack to an article from an image rather than the title or URL of an article.  I think that I’m really a visual learner.  I know that there are people who are interested in what I’m reading and so having them all aggregated into one board makes it easier to see them all in one spot.

So, I threw out all of the content that was created from the initial activation of my account.  I know what there are certain major topics that I focus on – Education, Programming, Macintosh, Windows, and Ubuntu – these became the new boards in my account.  (at least at the initial setup.  This might grow…)

Unlike the paradigm of Diigo or Delicious where you tag stories and articles with key words, I liken this as a collection of silos which are filled (pinned) with content.

Like most social networks, you have the ability to follow or be followed.  This extends the power of the curation.  Pinterest makes it very easy to take a resource that someone else has located and turn into a link on your own board.  Mousing over any item pinned lets you “like” it or “repin” it within your own collection.  If you’ve used any social network, you’ll immediately recognize the actions that are possible.  The key is to find good researchers on your topics of interest.

And, for new content, the “Pin it” bookmark lets you pin virtually any page onto one of your own boards.

The cool thing about Pinterest is that it appears to be flexible enough to turn it into any type of curation that you need/want.  It does have one restriction in that it requires at least one graphic or movie on a page being pinned so that you can pin it.  I see potential in this as an organizer.

I’m also seeing this as a presentation tool.  Unlike using a presentation package like Powerpoint or Prezi where you’re limited to a linear presentation of content, you could conceivably put an entire presentation onto a board as a collection or items pinned.  That would allow you the flexibility of jumping over a topic that you’ve elected not to use as the presentation happens.  More to that as my knowledge matures.  In the meantime, I’m having a great time learning new things and imagining just what is possible with this powerful tool.

Powered by Qumana

Cube for K-12 Teachers


The computer using teacher is always looking for high quality resources.  In an ever-changing technology world, there are always new and better resources available for classroom use.  You just have to find them.

Many of us will use bookmarking services like Delicious or Diigo or a Wiki to collect and share resources.  Another alternative is to look for resource repositories where a lot of the resource gathering and cataloguing has been done for you.  At that point, you just have to search until you find what you need and go ahead and use it(them).  Typically, a good repository will allow you to upload your best stuff to share with others.

Cube for K-12 Teachers is a repository for teachers that went live in Beta the first of October.  While the opening screen indicates that the resource will ultimately be available to all Canadian teachers, at present registration is limited to Ontario teachers.

Upon logging in, you’re dropped into your repository dashboard.  If you’re familiar with large online resources, a place like this is invaluable.  There are so many resources that it may be difficult to track back something that you’ve found.  So, having a dashboard which is a lot like leaving cookie crumbs so that subsequent visits are more productive.

You’ll want to bookmark the good resources into your favourites so that they’re not lost.  From the favourites, you can select up to 30 resources to go “on deck” for immediate use.   So, I’m envisioning that you spend some time finding resources and favouriting them.  During lesson preparation, you might select a couple for use the next day and moving them “on deck” makes them readily accessible.

You find the resources that may be helpful from the powerful front end search.  No “I’m Feeling Lucky” here.  You have the ability to really granularize your search as you’ll see below.

Search by grade, subject, course, strand, and even down to the expectation level.  You can even determine what type of resource you want retrieved.

Cube for K-12 Teachers seems off to a good start.  There is no charge for the service and so if you’re an Ontario educator and potentially more, this will prove to be a resource of increasing value as it expands.  Jump on board now!

Powered by Qumana

Backing up Diigo


This is not intended to cast anything disparaging in the direction of Diigo.  It’s a great service, I store virtually everything that I find as internet resources to my Diigo account for reference later on and it’s also the default search engine in my browser.  I also make it publically available to anyone who cares and Diigo creates a post to this blog somewhere in the wee hours of the morning – I think around 1am if I understand my UTC conversion correctly.

I’ve got a lot of information tucked away there.  I started in the whole realm of social bookmarking way back using Backflip – now since departed and another link that’s dead – then moved to Delicious and then to Diigo.  All three are great services, each having their own values.  My current procedure when I find something bookmarkable is to send it to Diigo which has a lovely little routine that sends a copy on to Delicious.  I figure that way I have the same content on both services should anything go wrong.  And, a Plan B does involved downloading a full copy of the bookmarks so that I have them stored locally.  I must admit that that part isn’t done nearly as faithfully as it should be.  I also periodically create a BlogBooker of my entire blog so that I have it all in one spot.

All was working fairly smoothly until last week when the new Delicious came online.  There are a lot of really nice features – BUT – and this is a big but for me at this time, the API has either changed or is no longer available to Diigo.  So, while I’m still using Diigo’s excellent service, I no longer have a automated backup online.  It’s a little unnerving since I make reference to this quite a bit.  What to do? What to do?  In the Diigo set of tools, Delicious was the only place that they offered automated posting.

I played around with a couple of options that work nicely.  One was to create a new blog (or actually a blog that I’ve got that I haven’t used in some time) and send the Diigo posts there.  It works nicely.  But, I wanted to do something a little more elegant and so I thought about Evernote.  Could I just send my content from Diigo to Evernote?  I decided to see. This calls for a service like IFTTT!  (If This, Then That).

I log into my account and start to poke around looking for a way to create an automated task to do the deed.

Ironically, the automatic triggers includes Delicious and Zootool but not Diigo.

What to do now?  What to do now?

Ah, RSS feed.  That’s the ticket!

Now, it’s clear sailing.  I’ll just pick up the RSS feed from the Diigo page, and set up a new task.

Smooth as silk.  With the first post, IFTTT creates a folder in Evernote to file away the link notes that are created every time the RSS feed says there’s something new to tuck away.

I’m resting easily now – online backups are now in place in case there’s ever a problem.  And, who knows, it may be that Delicious will come back with a way to be a player in this field again.  For now, I think I’ve got my bases covered.

Powered by Qumana

Day 1 with the new Delicious


I have my latest bookmarks saved as a message to this blog.  It’s done overnight so that it’s not intrusive to people.  I find it really handy for my own purposes when I need to quickly backtrack to find a recent bookmark.  The process goes like this…

  1. I find an interesting web resource;
  2. I click the Diigo extension in my browser;
  3. I find a descriptor from the resource or create my own, including tags for later retrieval;
  4. Throughout the day as I find interesting resources I repeat the process;
  5. After each resource has been bookmarked to Diigo, I have it then copied to Delicious using Diigo’s utility;
  6. In the middle of the night, Delicious posts a nice summary to the blog.

Circuitous, perhaps, but it’s a technique that works for me.  I am so grateful to Diigo and Delicious for providing these services for free.  Both services have changed my way of thinking about bookmarks and social sharing.  I started with Delicious where I built a nice network of followers and people I follow.  I moved to Diigo where I have another nice collection of connections.  At this point, I’m loathe to give up either.  Both are great services and, for the most part, have served me well.  Delicious goes back to 2007.

As I checked the list this morning, I noticed that there was one link that I just knew I had bookmarked late last night while watching football that wasn’t there.  I checked Diigo and it was indeed there.  I checked Delicious and it wasn’t.  Odd.  What was even more odd was that the layout of Delicious had changed!  I guess I knew (and we all knew) that Delicious would change now that Yahoo! had cut them loose.  I just found out that today was the day!

Like any brand new service, I poked around.  This time, it wasn’t totally new as many of the features that had always been at Delicious were there – only in different places.  And, some things were just not there at all.  Hmmm.  I flipped over to Twitter and the natives were already stamping their feet.  I wasn’t ready to join them just yet, after all this was Day 1.  I’m sure that there were monumental things happening in the design of a new interface and the migration of data.  Surely, we can cut them some slack!

Things that I noted missing at this point were the nice big collection of tags that I’d accumulated over the years, the ability to see people who were following me (although I could see the people who I currently follow), and a whack of things that would normally be under settings.  Things like configuring the post to my blog, which the former Delicious had always noted as being experimental although it generally did a good job.

So, it was back to my links.  The layout here is new and modern looking.  You have the ability to delete and share and, of course, go back in and edit a link.  Crucial to any bookmarking scheme is the ability to filter by tags and that works nicely even though the tag didn’t appear in the list on the side.  It’s comforting to know that they’re still there and functional.

The big new thing in store for Delicious users is the ability to create stacks.  A stack is a collection of URLs that you put together under a label.  I decided to create my own to give it a shot.  I searched within my own collection for a few Computer Science links and put together this stack.

The process was very easy and you’re looking at the grid view.  You’ll notice that there are other views available plus the built-in ability to send notice of the stack to others.  I tested that out and an email with a link to the stack along with some description does the deep.  Unfortunately, the notice doesn’t come from me but rather from the support account at avos.com.  That could be open to abuse.  I think I would share by sending that notice to myself and then forwarding from my own email account so that people would know that it came from me.  The stack is now available by going to my Delicious page.  The stack itself is pretty attractive – I like that Delicious goes out and snags a thumbnail from the site.  Your stacks get displayed nicely once created.

Overall, there is a real sense that Delicious has made efforts to modernize the interface.  The familiar blue, black, and white is there and and remains consistent throughout.  For a Day 1, they seem to be off to a good start.  I notice that the links that I’m saving on Diigo are not being passed along to Delicious at this time.  I read on Twitter that Diigo has indicated that they are aware of this.  I’m thinking that the API may be disabled or changed at this time.

Using Delicious as the default search engine within Google Chrome still works nicely.  You’ll need to use the new Bookmarklet to post directly to your account from the browser.  The existing extension doesn’t seem to work at this point.  However, as I write this post the bookmarklet is giving a 502 Gateway error but I’m sure I just caught them at a bad moment.

It will be interesting to see if there are more to the new Delicious that gets rolled out over the next couple of days.  My routine as outlined at the top is indeed broken at this point.  I’ve reactivated Diigo posting to the blog so that I don’t miss anything.   We’ll see.  Share on.

Powered by Qumana