Follow Ontario Edu-Bloggers, Part II

Last #FollowFriday, I used Montage to put together a visual representation of Ontario Edu-Bloggers based upon their RSS feeds.  I like the effect and suggested that it might be an interesting starting page should you want to see what the folks throughout the province were blogging.  The content of the entry was based upon the results from Rodd Lucier who had originally posted the list on his blog.

For the past week, I was musing about other ways to display collections like that.  One resource that I’ve always wanted to create something of substance is LiveBinders.  So, in tribute to the Ontario educators who blog, here’s another way to bring these resources together.  Starting with Rodd’s list, I kept an eye on my Seesmic Desktop column of Ontario Educators and when I found a new Twitter message, checked the profile to see if there was a blog attached.  If there was, I added it to the LiveBinder that I’d created.  Now, I can copy and paste with the best of them but the folks at LiveBinders have created a little Bookmarklet that makes things so easy.  Just find a page and click – tell LiveBinders where to store it in the popup window and move on.  It was an incredibly quick way to pull them all together.

I maintained the original categorization that Rodd started, just taking a little liberties in order to get the titles to fit in the tabs and the result is an interesting way to categorize and display all of the blogs from a single page.  LiveBinders doesn’t spawn a new window with each link – it displays the results in a frame in the same window.  I found this very handy as I browsed around to make sure that I didn’t mess up when putting things together.

So, there you have it … a nice tribute to Ontario Bloggers for this #FollowFriday.  You can check it out live at this link.

Obviously, I created it for this blog entry.  But, I keep thinking of the best way to manage a class of bloggers and think that this might be another easy way to keep tabs on each of them with minimal navigation


Web for All

I had this topic on my queue of things to blog about and must admit that it had kind of faded from memory until I read this tweet from Ira Socol yesterday.

When you visit the links PC, Macintosh, you’re directed to the Collections page of add-ons for the Firefox web browser.  The goal of Mr. Socol’s collections is pretty evident in the descriptor "Make your browser accessible to virtually all students with this collection."

So, what’s the big deal?  A browser is a browser, right?  Well, not quite so.  In fact, if you follow Mr. Socol, you know that he is a champion for digital inclusion using technologies and techniques to help level the playing field for all students. 

Recently, I wrote a post asking if *I* could live in a browser.  As I think about it in the context of the above, a better question might have been "Could *everyone" live in a browser".  For some, the answer is no, if you’re using a bare bones browser.  But, with a little assistance, it becomes feasible.  Through the use of carefully selected Firefox add-ons, the "browser" can be reinvented to include more users.  I recall when I was using Firefox 3.# downloading and installing the MITS collection.  To my surprise, the collection of add-ons was very helpful and I found myself using many of them to enhance my own browsing experience.

In the best spirit of "Necessary for some, good for all", educators really should take a look at this collection.  In addition to the original audience, the package represents a very good collection offering in-browser utility and productivity for all students.

It may cause some chagrin for some that opt for a single browser so that it can be locked down and controlled centrally.  But, let’s not forget that the clientelle in education should have access to the best tools that are available.  There may come a time when these add-ons are available for all browsers but at this point, it’s only Firefox that does the job.  Educators need to evaluate these resources and, if they fit the bill, need to advocate to make them available for all students.

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links for 2010-12-30

A Great Confluence

I’ve had FourSquare on my portable device for a while.  I wouldn’t say that I’m a power user by any extent and mostly use it to check in to restaurants after the food is ordered and we’re waiting delivery.  I’m also a mayor of three locations.  Two involve park benches and seagulls and the other a Tim Horton’s.  I wouldn’t exactly say that I’m changing the world with my check-in habits.  But, I do like the potential of discounts from vendors if I give them a little notice when I check in to their stores.  I just have to find such a place…

One of the recent upgrades to the service was announced just before Christmas included the ability to post pictures and comments as you check in.  What a great concept – now when you’re checking, you can also document it.  That certainly makes things more interesting.  I remember thinking at the time that it might inspire me to use FourSquare more often if I could find an interesting angle other than the exhaust pipe of the car in front of me.  At least, my current use amuses Ron_Mill.

But, when you think about it, it does diversify any photos that you might want to share.  So, you’d have FourSquare pictures documenting where you’ve been and another service like Flickr where you share and document your life.  Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a meld between the two?  There is now.

The service FlickSquare fills that gap.  It seems like a natural evolution.  Post your FourSquare pictures and they’re posted to your Flickr account at the same time.

The concept makes both services immediately more valuable and it’s not hard to see that this functionality is a natural match.  The most immediate use that springs to mind is staying in touch with folks as you holiday.  (Of course, you have a housesitter…)  But, for the vendor that will give discounts or recognition for folks that check in, they get more advertising for free immediately.  For you, there’s no more finding time when you’re home to locate and upload the pictures after the fact.  In education, imagine parents staying in touch as you document a field trip on the fly.

Right from the start, this is such a great idea.  Perhaps it will be the inspiration that FourSquare needs to build right into their application or to acquire this startup.  The natural extension would, of course, be to extend posting options to any of the other photo sharing services so that you can update any of them as well.

links for 2010-12-29