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  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.

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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 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.


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.


  • 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.