If you haven’t, you should read Brandon Grasley’s Post “Finding “unusual” content using Zite“. In the post, he talks about how he uses Zite to break outside of the Echo Chamber that it’s so easy to fall in to.
The nice thing about being connected is that you can connect with whoever or whatever you want. As he notes, as an educator, you can surround you with other educators that feed you the same messages. Or, you can turn it into something else. We have such great tools that can enable your learning in any way that suits. There’s no excuse for hearing the same messages over and over.
Brandon talks about using Zite – which also remains my first reading app of the day. In his post, Brandon asks for topics that you follow – there was considerable overlap between what he follows and what I do. Additional things that are fed into my reader include “Vaio, Gnome, Ubuntu, Mozilla, Microsoft Office 365, Malware, Windsor, Professional Development, Linux, Microsoft Sharepoint, Ontario, Canada, Android, Gadgets, Infographics”.
For the most part, I’ll open Zite in the morning and flip my way through “Your Top Stories’ where the best of these categories and the others I follow similar to Brandon “Education, Google, Blogging, …” appear. As a reader, I get a smattering of stories from all of these areas. Then, I’ll look into specific subject areas that I feel I need more attention. Inevitably, it will be Ubuntu, Ontario, Windsor, … I’ve mentioned many times but will do it again – the power of the reading and learning is to share with others. If a story strikes a chord with me, I’ll share it to Twitter so that anyone else who is interested can take advantage of the fact that I’ve read it. (Note that “strikes a chord” doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m 100% in agreement with the post – it’s just that it’s well argued.) From there, Packratius takes the link and saves it to my Diigo account so that I have a permanent addition to my reading collection. Overnight, Diigo makes a post to my blog that I call OTR Links so that I can review my previous day’s reading.
Zite does a wonderful job of learning how I learn. By giving a thumbs up or a thumbs down, I can refine the kind of stories it scrapes for me. I’ll also confess to an outburst of ego – if my own blog posts appear, I’ll give it a thumbs up. There’s nothing like being a published author – at least in my own feed.
Zite isn’t my only reading tool. A screenshot of my News folder shows the other programs that suit a similar purpose for me.
I use the same technique but with different subjects in all the readers. I’ll admit though, Zite does get the majority of my reading time. We’ve heard for quite some time about the acquisition of Zite by Flipboard but it’s still alive and doing the good things that it does.
Every now and again, I’ll step back and just be in amazement how powerful the tools are that we have at our fingertips. Ten years ago, you’d have to be in a well-curated library to have access to the same content. But, I couldn’t do it sitting in my recliner chair having a coffee and breakfast. I’ve always spent the first half-hour of my day devoted to reading and being selfish about my own learning.
These tools enable an amazing world of learning. It’s just a matter of making it happen.
Thanks, Brandon, for the inspiration to think about all this.