The Speed of Social Media


An article was the topic of a number of discussions this weekend around here.  My daughter had shared it with me and I can only respond with “Sickening”.  You can read the story here.

How rumour, innuendo turned a man’s death into a double tragedy

I think that anyone in education lies in dread that something like this could happen to them.

It isn’t helpful to discuss the details or the response by the employer in this venue.  

Instead, I think that one sentence stands out from the article for me.

Correcting the record has been difficult – it’s hard to compete with the Internet – so she and her family decided to speak out.

We talk about teaching internet literacy, the importance of critical thinking to validate statements.  We talk about your digital footprint and how it’s so difficult to correct, edit, or delete anything that has gone wrong.

But, are we truly teaching it?  Information shared, is shared quickly.  We smile at some of the things that go viral.  That’s the up side.

There is another side.

This should serve as a call to action for education.

Two things:

  • Is your digital footprint saying what you want it to say?
  • Are you guilty of spreading rumours that aren’t based in fact?

What are you going to do about it?

News and Weather


There was a great deal of hubbub yesterday when word got out that Google had released a copy of its News and Weather Application for iOS.  It had been previously available for those who use the Android system.  I gave it a download to see what it looked like on iOS.

I guess that I shouldn’t be surprised when, if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, … but other than the default dark display install of the familiar white of the Android, it looks and functions exactly the same way.  In fact, the first thing I did was go to the menu and add “Education” as a category.  Now both versions should pick up the same content.

But other than that I was off to the races.  Of course, location is important when you’re looking for the weather and there was no issue quickly picking up me at home.  A quick change of location and you’re pulling in the weather from wherever you want.

Like good news reading applications, a collection of “Top Stories” occupies the home for the application.

Tapping the now familiar hamburger menu lets you see the default news categories.  There is a nice selection to get started – World, Canada, Business, Technology, Entertainment, Sports, Science, Health, and of course the local stories from Amherstburg and Windsor.  Amherstburg just doesn’t have a whole lot to report so the application appears to pull in stories from around the country to fill.

With each story, a down arrow exposes related stories which is a very nice feature.  Once you’re done with the top stories, swipe left and right to work your way through your defined categories.

Clicking on a story takes you directly to the story.  There’s a navigation bar at top that will bring you back to the application.  Therein lies a problem for sharers.  Unlike other reading/sharing programs that connect directly to Twitter or Facebook, News and Weather doesn’t.  Fortunately, in this day and age, most sources have a way to use social media on their website.  The problem is that there’s no consistent way to access it.  It would be nice to have a native sharing button.

The layout is clean and you know that with Google who is already indexing things anyway, you’ll get relevant and fresh content.  For those on the iOS platform looking for a reader, I’d suggest downloading it and seeing if it has a home on your device.

Android Download

iOS Download

Google Forms Really Mature


I’ve been a user of Google Forms forever, it seems.  They’re a great way to collect opinions, quick testing, gathering observations, going paperless, …  Entries come in with a timestamp and you can ask for identifying information or just keep it random.  Things are done at the user keyboard and I think that, properly done, it’s one of the better electronic activities that you can use right in your classroom.

There are a couple of really neat features that you can use to make your work look and act even more professionally.  Google continues to work at their offerings to make them mature and just add additional functionality.

Themes

Of course, there’s nothing better than a great looking form.  But, don’t stick to the boring default – choose a cool theme.  Select “Change Theme” from the menu bar and select from some looks that range from fun to professional looking.

Even the best theme can sometimes use a little tweak!

Within each theme (or the blank default), select the “Customise” option and change to your hearts content!

Once you have the perfect customised theme, you may not want to use it just once.  In fact, you may have a theme that you’d like to use consistently throughout that class or that subject area.  

Copy and apply that perfect theme to your new form!  With a background or header image, you can have a consistent display (or even class messages) that appear every time you use that theme.  Lots of ideas can be incorporated.

Mix It Up (but not too much)

Now, I don’t want to say that I went to school with a bunch of cheaters, but I can remember paper tests that were labelled “Test A” and “Test B” and even duplicated on different coloured paper.  They were distributed such that even if you decided to take a peek at the person beside you the questions, while the same, were in a different order.  That functionality is available for your Google Form.  Of course, you could create two separate forms – but that’s old school!  This is 2014.

Just click the “Shuffle question order” and each visitor to the form will have their questions shuffled.  You’ve got to like that.

While you’re at it – there may be people trying to “game” your form by submitting multiple copies of it.  Supposed you’re doing a little quiz and you don’t want to take the best results for an individual making multiples in the hopes of getting one that’s right!  If they have and are logged into a Google account, check “Only allow one response per person”.

If you’re a Google Forms user, check out these features.  Your forms will look, and work, awesomely.

You’ll look like the professional you are with these features.

Reblog – A Sign for Trustees


Some Twitter posts from yesterday made me smile…

But the value added by Lorna Costantini…

…had me going back and reading my original post.

I can’t believe that I posted it over a month ago.  How time flies.  Now that candidate nominations are closed, we have a LOT of people running locally, including one running for mayor who wanted to withdraw but wasn’t allowed to!

It just takes a tour through our town (or any town in the province, for that matter) to see all of the signage up for display.  I remember my father telling me the difference in importance between a sign on someone’s lawn versus a sign placed on public property.  I’ve always wondered about the value of lawn signs, certainly I’ve never been persuaded by someone’s names.  These days, I now look for choice of font and sign design, balance, colour, …  (such a nerd)  I supposed that the biggest takeaway would be the sheer numbers of individual signs as either a straw poll for popularity or the amount of money that someone has committed to getting elected.  I will admit that I do appreciate someone who takes the time to make sure that the sign is level.

For probably the week after the election, the lawn signs will still be there, but they’ll eventually get taken down and hopefully recycled.  During the election campaign, there will be many candidates who turn to social and electronic media to reach out to folks.  My original post talked about the use of technology during election campaigns and I tried to argue the case that lawn signs have a limited life and could be recycled.  Social media presence has the ability to live on after the election.

I still stand by my comments; maybe I’m even more committed to them.  But, I think the post was way too early.  It’s just now that we’re seeing the influx of signs and social media presence.  To that end, I’d like to bring the post forward and ask that it not be applied to just trustees but to all that are running for election.  Just change “school” to whatever institution applies.

Here’s the original post.


Jaimie and I were out for our morning walk and we saw a red and white election campaign sign on a neighbour’s lawn.  We thought – hmmm, a politician who wants to align themselves with the Liberal Party.  As we got closer, it turned out to be a sign for a candidate for the local Catholic School Board.

For my non-Ontario readers, a quick briefing.

In Ontario, we have three major political parties:

and a collection of other parties.

We also have four publicly funded school boards.

  • English Language Public School System
  • French Language Public School System
  • English Language Catholic School System
  • French Language Catholic School System

In addition, each municipality has a mayor, perhaps a deputy mayor, and councillors that are elected every four years.  School board trustees are elected at the same time.  Social media made for some interesting moments at a previous election when people started to take pictures and send a copy of their ballot out on Twitter.

It’s interesting how social media permeates so many of the things in our society.  During the last municipal elections around here, the buzzwords were “transparency” and “openness”.  Even though our community retains the fame (and signs) of being the Safest Community in Canada, there have been issues that have arisen that I’m sure will result in a higher than normal turnout of voters.  So, it seems to me that it’s more important than even for candidates for the school boards to be very visible.

During the last municipal elections, many turned to social media.  I thought, at the time, this was a great idea.  It’s free – but a blog, or Facebook presence, or Twitter presence would raise the visibility of candidates.  I actually started a list of candidates on Twitter and followed the discussion about the election and their thoughts on education.

Then, the election was over.  Down came the lawn signs and the efforts to talk about issues on social media.  To be fair, there are still three local trustees that maintain a presence and do interact on social media.  But, from my perspective, that’s about it.

I wish I could properly attribute this quote but it’s stuck with me.  “The Primary Goal of any Politician, once elected, is to get Re-elected”.

As we walked by the lawn sign, we mused that it will be up for a couple of months and then taken down.  Similarly, how many social media accounts will do the same?

When you think of the things that could be done…

  • promote events at your representative schools;
  • check-in when you do school related activities;
  • share your rationale for school board votes;
  • share pictures of educational events;
  • promote the cause of school/district initiatives (Green Schools, etc.);
  • support fundraising activities;

In fact, here are a bunch of reasons why you should tweet.

Doesn’t it make sense to develop an educational digital footprint, care and feed it during the campaign, and then continue after the election?  Your constituency won’t learn about you from a random lawn sign; through social media, they’ll know your record, your successes, your passions, your dedication….

How We’re Connected


It’s no secret that I love exploring with maps.  I think it can be the ultimate infographic! 

If you spend a lot of time exploring a map, there are so many great stories behind it.

This resource is just plain fascinating.  It’s called “Greg’s Cable Map“.

The map, created in Google Maps, shows under water cable connections, current and future. 

Navigate the map by mousing over a cable and the name and details of the cable appear at the bottom of your display.  On the right, click on the name of the specific connection for details and further links.  There is a caution that the details may not be completely accurate in location.  That’s completely understandable.

If you want to take the politics out of things, switch from the basic map to a satellite representation.

I’ll bet that you’ll find yourself being a connected global navigator in no time at all.  Of course, it makes for wonderful classroom discussion!

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s Friday and time to reflect on some of reading I did from around the province this past week.  There are some new (to me) blogs featured this week and an old friend.  When you’re done scouting these, make sure that you read the complete collection of Ontario Edublogs.


It’s a Slow Process

Thanks, Brian Aspinall, for giving me the heads up on Nicole Beuckelare’s blog.  It was nice to find something new and to add it to the Livebinder and the Scoopit! page

Her latest post reflects on the length of time that it takes for change to happen.

I had to smile – anyone who works anywhere in education is quite aware of this phenomenon.  It’s amazing to think that computers and related technologies have been around in the classroom for over 30 years.  Yet, there are some people that are just finding this out!  Ditto for the concept of making to learn.  It’s not a new concept; teachers of technologies have known that creation is the best possible way to learn for years.

In her post, Nicole mentions that she had taken part in the PLP Group five years ago.  That brought back memories for me.  I submitted two cohorts years ago.  Both of the cohorts grew incredibly from the experience.  It really helped the eLearning teachers incorporate more web technologies in their online courses.  The elementary school teachers developed a culture of sharing and celebrating everything among themselves.  It didn’t happen over night but it did happen with the intense supports put in place.

But, how about the hundreds of others that didn’t have the experience?  They work hard every day with the tools, knowledge, and understanding that they have.  Change is a longer process here.

The whole concept, again, reinforces the notion that ongoing professional learning is required for all if we want significant change.  Just how many opportunities does your district give you this year?  If there are few to none, are they really serious about making change happen?


My Promise to You

This post flows nicely from Nicole’s.

Aviva Dunsiger is extremely visible about the change that she wants to make.  There’s always a new post of interest about something on her blog.

Her recent post shares some of the techniques that she uses to try to ensure success for all of her students.

It’s important to note the totality of her efforts.  It’s not just technology that’s the answer.  I think that’s an important message for all to hear.  It’s a great tool but isn’t necessarily the only one.

Aviva reflects on the complete package.


The New Wave of Vocab Games

Communication is what it’s all about in the language classroom, whether first or second language.  Interestingly, oral communications, which is so important may well be the less precise of all the communications.  When the recipient of the communication can interpret not only the actual communication but also the intent, you can be “close” and still be understood.

If you want to see this in action, watch me butcher the French language and yet still get the message across.

To be really precise, use a computer!  Ironically, this precision can be very motivating for students.

In this post, Myra Mallette shares two applications that she’s using this year – Quizlet and Kahoot.

If you know of a French teacher looking for a way to further engage students, send them this link.  Well crafted gaming can do so much in the classroom.


New Book ~ Reflecting in Communities of Practice: A Workbook for Early Childhood Educators

When I finished my time at the Faculty of Education, there really wasn’t any way to continue the learning through them.  I guess that the logic was that once you’ve jumped the fence and got your BEd, it’s time to move on and grab the next class.

I’m not sure that the intent of the Faculty of Education, UWO’s blog is to reach out to the entire teaching profession but why not?  Check out this blog to find the latest and greatest resources that have been added to their library.  If it looks good and you have access to that library, great.  If not, forward the title to those who look after the professional collection wherever you work and ask that they purchase the materials and make them available to your organization.

After all, we all know that learning shouldn’t stop just because you graduated!


Thanks to all of the bloggers who continue to share their thinking and push us all to new and exciting things.  There’s always some great learning shared by Ontario Edubloggers.

 

Better Searching


This story “10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know You Could Do With #Twitter Search” crossed my reading yesterday morning.  It’s a story about using advanced commands and modifiers to refine your Twitter Search.

I used to call this button the most useless link on the internet.

I wonder if anyone has ever seriously found anything that way.  Certainly, it is a curiosity and an amusement, but serious searching?

In fact, any search engine worth its salt has advanced commands and modifiers.  All that you have to do is learn and then commit them to memory or….

Use the advanced searching features!

So, while a Twitter search begins with this page….

….there is an advanced search page where you can use the sophisticated search features mentioned in the article.  Just click here instead.

 

Rather that memorizing the modifiers, just fill in the form and search.

No need to committing things to memory.

What a great way to zero in on the type of discussions happening on Twitter.

While at it, consider your other search engines.

For example, Google Basic looks like this..

But, there is an advanced search page here…..

Ditto for Yahoo!….

and the advanced search

 

As you can imagine, just with these few examples, there is no actual standard for advanced searching.  But, by using the Advanced Search features, you don’t need to know the syntax of a particular site.  Just fill in the form and start reeling in the results.

For the serious searcher, it makes more sense to me that you head directly to the advanced searching page to get to the precise results