Managing Social Media


Hootsuite posted this to their blog and made it available on December 29.

Managing Your Social Media Profiles While On Holiday

I suppose that it could, or should, be posted/reposted during any holiday period as a way to remind folks that there is a great deal of power available in the tools that you use.  In this case, Alyssa Kritsch is pointing to some of the strengths of their product which has become the social media browser of choice for me.

As I read her article, I realized that I was using the features that she talks about on a daily basis – not just when I’m on holidays.  Also, in the reading, I detect that perhaps her intended audience was for business but it all rang true for me and I’ll bet it does for you.  After all, we’re all selling something – ideas, concepts, promotions, friendships, learning opportunities, …

I recall a comment I heard from an edtech “leader” once and he was running down the concept of a Twitter workshop.  “Who needs a workshop on Twitter?”  I suppose that there may be some merit to the concept if all that a workshop did was cover signing up, sending a Twitter message, replying, favouriting, and sending a direct message.

Is that all there is to it?

Absolutely not.  Hopefully, by the time you get to this line in my blog you’ll have opened the link above in a new tab and read it.  Effective Social Media use does involve using the tools for more than sending a simple message or reading a couple of others.

Under the hood of the tool that you’re using, there are many features that will empower your presence.  Even something as simple as scheduling a message or a post to your blog or a picture to Facebook at the time of your choosing lets you take control.  Another simple technique of sharing an article the moment you read it helps feed the community of learners of which you’re a part.

One feature of Hootsuite that I use all the time is access to my Twitter Lists.  My Ontario Educators and Ontario Educators 2 lists are invaluable for keeping focus on Ontario things.  (And it makes #FollowFridays easier too!)  I also realized that I have a particular sleeping pattern.  Basically, I sleep at night.  There’s a whole other group of people who are busy tweeting and sharing while I’m asleep.  My way of coping is to create a special list for them – Over There – so that I can catch up when I get up.  Any list that you create would have to be done to meet your needs, but why not do it and increase the value of being connected?

The power of sharing cannot be underestimated – the more you share, the more people share back.  Consequently, you and your community of learners have the potential of being just that much more informed and, ultimately, smarter.

And isn’t that what we’re all here for?

If you care to share, what tools do you use to manage your social media presence?

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Starting New


I never really thought about this for the longest time.  A new tab was just a new tab and a place to start browsing anew while not losing the original focus on the previous tab.  I really bought into the concept of multiple tabs so that I could do and work on a couple of things at once.

Time moves on and I do my best to become efficient.  Because I always check into Twitter, Facebook, my Gmail account, it made sense to save these tabs and load them automatically when I load my browser.  Then, I got hooked on Alltop.  It was a great way to have the commonly read web resources load every time I got started.  For me, I got the sense that I was working smarter and that really made a great deal of sense.  Just the menial task of manually opening tabs seemed to rob me of productivity time.

I think my philosophy changed the first time I loaded the Opera browser and saw Speed Dial for the first time.

You could turn the new tab experience into an ever greater launch point for productivity.  I started looking around and ended up with the Incredible Start Page and I shared it on this blog here.  It just because like a pair of comfortable shoes.  It was there when I started a new tab – had a notepage for quick notes to myself, access to my bookmarks, the apps I had installed, and a list of the most visited sites for me.  For my Google Chrome browsing experience, it was great!  Oddly, I didn’t make the same effort to change the new tab page in the other browser of choice – Firefox, the default always did the job for me.

Then, about a week ago, I read a couple of articles about applications and extensions to bring more functionality to the browser.  The nice thing about blogging was that I could go back to the original post and realize that I hadn’t changed the new tab function for two years.  That’s an eternity to changes made on this computer!  So, I devoured these two articles.

http://lifehacker.com/the-best-apps-and-extensions-to-supercharge-chromes-ne-982659508

http://lifehacker.com/the-best-apps-and-extensions-to-supercharge-firefoxs-n-995238717

…and then started to explore.

I had really bought into the Rockmelt philosophy that there should be something new every time you load a browser.  I was motivated to look for something with the concept that Rockmelt will stop functioning on August 31.  I really hope that Yahoo! finds some way to keeping it alive but that’s fodder for another post.  Wouldn’t it be great if there was just something new when I opened a new tab?

I’ve been curious about active tiles and how it works within Windows 8.  Not enough to buy it but the whole metro interface thing seems to be a new model for getting to the latest and greatest and having it right on your Windows desktop.  Could it not happen in a new tab instead?

To that end, I downloaded and installed the new metroTab.  It had that new metro experience but after poking around I realized that I could do some great customization to suit my needs – including the philosophy that everything looks better in green.  I had access to recently closed tabs but am really drawn to the active content on the desktop.  I liked what I saw and kept it.  It did seem a little wrong to have it running on Ubuntu so I changed the background colour to orange and it does seem to fit nicely there.

I continue to poke around and see what I can do on a regular basis.  The only think that’s seemingly a void in the upgrade was a missing notepad.  But having a tile to Evernote was a no-brainer – I really had gravitated there for the most part anyway.

What to do to refresh Firefox?  There wasn’t a metro interface in the second article but New Tab Tools gives a very nice customization ability to getting started.

In both cases, access to recently closed tabs helps out with those “D’oh” moments.

I’m liking the current new tab modifications.  I haven’t forgotten the past and they may well return but such is the life of an ever evolving search for the ultimate productivity tools.  In the classroom, what a great way to make it easy for students to get to web resources for those computers progressive enough to be using web applications.

Speaking of ever changing, you can’t be complacent.  I read this today.  Changes to Chrome’s New Tab Page.

Who can’t handle a little change?

Patti’s Great Northern Cottage Adventure


A couple of weeks ago, my friend Patti Henderson asked me if I had ever used the Flowboard application.  I had read and bookmarked an article Flowboard App Will Be The Most Important Free App You Download This Month [Daily Feebie] but that was about it.  She indicated that she was going to give it a workout to see what she could do with it.  Yesterday, she published “Going with the Flow” to her blog.  The post was a prelude to a Flowboard that she had created titled “The Great Northern Cottage Adventure“.

In the Flowboard, she used the tool to document her recent trip to Georgian Bay and environs.

Now, I’ve been known to go to a destination and take a picture or two.  In fact, yesterday, we visited Amherstburg’s Fort Malden for the Military Muster days and I took a few pictures to post.  If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you can view the complete set.  It’s what I think many people do with collections of images – you put them in an album on Facebook, Flickr, Google +, or whatever and share with the world.

Sometimes, you can enhance the images by adding a description to the album or to the individual pictures.

With the use of Flowboard, Patti made her collection of images into a fully documented story.  Within the Flowboard, she took the time to document where she was, what she saw, and the significance of what you’re viewing.  The result?

A full-featured story of her trip!

Navigation is simple – click the arrows and work your way through her vacation story.  However, at each slide, she’s included a related gallery packed with images.  In this case, the galleries get displayed in full context by location.  You still can’t go over the top without great pictures.  Patti uses her photographer’s eye to take some unique pictures – I love the waterfall – and some have been enhanced for your enjoyment.

The net effect is a gorgeous story of her vacation.  Of course, anyone who has made the trek there knows what a dream the place is for a photographer.  Patti’s work truly reinforces the concept.

In the classroom, I think of how many times field trips are accompanied by the class camera (and now with student smartphones).  Wouldn’t this be a terrific way to assemble the results at the end of the trip and incorporate storyboarding, image editing, and an authentic writing experience for the class?

Check out Patti’s vacation story at the link above.  Patti, very well done!

A List for Learning


Any day now, there are many educators that will be starting Additional Qualification courses over the summer.  There are a couple of things that will be certain to happen during these courses.

  • Some sort of goofy ice-breaking, get-to-know-ya activity.  This activity will definitely take up at least the first hour of any course.  They are a necessity since you’ll be learning with others in a concentrated period of time;
  • What’s your Twitter handle?  Any AQ leader worth their muster will be gathering these names and/or encouraging those who are not online learning to do so.  Then, there’s the mandatory “Hello World” Twitter message followed by “Is this thing on?” and then often little more.

The challenge with additional qualification courses lies in generating value after the course has ended.  This value comes from professional relationships or professional conversations after the last day.  Having taken a large number of these courses, I was bad with that.  At the time, working in groups was a necessary activity since the presentations that you did in for class required group work.  But, once the class was over, that was it.  We departed; often never to see each other again.  I was an out of towner, taking the courses in London and Toronto so it wasn’t even like I could car pool with a co-learner.  When it was over, it was over.

I was recently reminded of this by @pmcash.  We took the Data Processing Specialist course at the University of Western Ontario more years ago than either of us will admit.  I just received a message from Peter that he had found an assignment of mine.

Peter

I hope that he hangs on to it so that I can take a look at it.  It will affirm how far we’ve come!  If you know Peter, you’ll know what I mean when I say that he was about the only person I can remember from those courses.  As computer science teachers, our paths have crossed a few times over the years but the rest of the class – sadly, I don’t remember.

Back to the current AQ course.  Your instructor will have asked for your Twitter ID.  For some, that will be as far as it goes.  Why don’t you take it further?

Follow everyone in your class.  For the duration of the course, use that as a way to share resources and enhance your learning.  How do you keep track?  Put them into a Twitter List.  I’ve mentioned the concept of a Twitter List before.  Particularly if you’re a regular Twitter user, it’s the best way to keep track of the conversation.  Put them all into a list and then follow the postings to the list in your Twitter browser.  What a great way to share the learning (and the load) of your class!  Hopefully, all will find it so useful that the sharing continues after the course.

It’s also an immediate way to monitor any back channel that you’ve got going during those hours of presentations that typically form the core of these courses.  Of course, your AQ course supports BYOD and connectivity and encourages a back channel – right?

But the learning and connections shouldn’t stop there.  There will come a time when the course ends and summer enjoyment ramps up.  Keep the list alive.  If your learning is good enough for the AQ course, it should be even better when September returns and you’re all back in your classrooms – maybe even teaching that subject or that grade level for the first time.  Share your resources and ideas – don’t do what Peter and I did and leave it until years later, if at all.  To our defence, we weren’t preparing to be 21st Century teachers!  The concept wasn’t even conceived of at the time.  It would be completely different if we were in Prof. Walsh’s class now.

But you are!  The greatest gift and learning that you may walk away with from your course is your own Instant Personal Learning Network that extends far beyond your few weeks in the summer.

Getting Started with Planboard


In our daily phone conversations, ECOO Conference co-chair Cyndie Jacobs and I cover so much.  Today, we were talking about some of the exhibitors and I was excited to learn that the company behind Planboard would be attending the conference.  I had met one of the people involved, Suraj Srinivas, at the Ontario Google Summit where I got a quick introduction to the product and was inspired to follow up with things.

I should point out that I was a real fan of the Ontario Curriculum Unit Planner when it came along.  Having access to all of the expectations in the Ontario Curriculum and the ability to manipulate them as a unit was developed was just genius!  Sadly, that product hasn’t been maintained for a while.  That’s where Planboard steps in.

In a world where we’re moving to the cloud and sharing so much, it makes sense that lesson planning heads in that direction.  That’s where Planboard fits into things.  It’s already caught the eye of a few organizations:

and the relationship with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation was announced at the recent Curriculum Forum.  This is exciting news for Ontario Educators!  It doesn’t stop there though; expectations from TEKS and Common Core are included as well.

Signing up is free – create an account or use your Facebook or Google login to do the deed.

From there, it’s just a matter to start planning your day – all saved online so that you can plan at home, on public transit, wherever, and access your planning at school.

If you can work a wordprocessor (or more likely a blog editor), you can develop in Planboard.  Notice the intuitive menu items above.  If you need to include an image or a video to share with your class, adding it to Planboard is just as easy as adding one to your blog.  (Try doing that with a paper planner!)  If you believe in the real power of collaboration, you’ll notice the green public button above.  As educators take to Planboard and create their best lessons, they’ll be in a position to share them with others (or the world, if they care to).

Sharing is important and a variety of ways to share your efforts is made available.  I can see places where each of the ways would work but sophisticated people will just share the link to the lesson.

And if you’re looking for inspiration, try doing a search to see if someone has already created and shared a lesson.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that there are some computer science plans already shared at the site.

Of course, a lesson gains its context when you take a look at the curriculum expectations that are addressed during the lesson.  Including the appropriate expectation when you’re designing a lesson is just a matter of finding it and then clicking the add button for inclusion.

The basic, free accounts allows for 500MB of storage with an option to upgrade.

There are also campus and school licensing options.

If you’ve been in search of a lesson plan tool designed for the cloud with the inclusion of the curriculum and other tools for lesson preparation, then you need to take a look at Planboard.  It may be just what you’re looking for.

Filling a Dance Card


If you’ve been monitoring the Twitter stream since Sunday evening, you’ll notice that there have been many happy posts from people whose presentation proposals have been accepted for the #ecoo13 conference, BringIT,Together.  Indeed, part of the ECOO 13 Dance Card has been filled.  Here’s how…

Potential presenters were asked to submit their sessions online.  All of the information was collected in a database and there was an overwhelming total of entries exceeding 300.  These needed to all be independently reviewed and such was the task assigned to each member of the committee of 14.  In fact, each submission had at least three reviewers.  That meant that each committee member had 60-65 proposals to review.

All of these reviews were collated and a smaller group of 6 got together in Milton on a Friday night/Saturday morning to revisit each of the proposals, consider the evaluations already submitted, make suggestions and ultimately arrive at the portion of the proposals that would receive an invitation.  At this time, this included English language presentations.  Still to be decided will be the French language presentations and the presentation given by exhibitors.  The committee is excited by the selection of offerings to be delivered in French.

Sadly, not all of the proposals could be accepted.  There’s just so many rooms and timeslots!  The committee is working on a schedule designed to maximize the number of sessions offered.

For program purposes, each of the sessions were tagged by the committee and one of our members created a Wordle to give a sense of the content.

2013-05-13_0927

So, invitations have been extended and, as they’ve been confirmed, they’re added to the #ecoo13 Lanyrd site.  You’re certainly welcome to visit the site and watch as it fills with confirmation from presenters.  While there, if you’re going to join us in Niagara Falls on October 23-25, please indicate so.

If you can’t get enough of this, make sure that you install the Lanyrd  app or follow the site on your smart phone.  (It’s HTML5 enabled)

2013-05-13 20.02.22

Now you’re hopefully excited!

After all, keynote speakers Amber MacArthur and Jaime Casap plus all of these great sessions offered by Ontario educators (and beyond!) promise that #ecoo13 will be a great conference.

The registration process is being tuned and will be available for use by registrants in June.  Stay tuned to social media experts @pmcash and @aforgrave as they provide the latest details via their Twitter accounts, in the Facebook group and the Google Plus Community.  Make friends online now and plan to meet them face to face at the conference.  Got a colleague who needs a little prompting to get a Twitter account?  Perhaps this is the opportunity to sit at their side and get them signed up!

If you’re reading this post and presenting, why not add a comment and let folks know your area of expertise.

Checking Out the Big Social World


Now, before you read on, a disclaimer.  This is in no way an encouragement for you to do all of this.  Remember that you have a life, a dog to walk, a family to hang with, a job that needs attention, a garden that needs weeding, …

You get the point.

It’s very helpful to use the same brand name across social media platforms.  It carves out your identity and make is easy for people to find and follow you if they’re so inclined.

How do you know if a name or what you’re proposing as your brand is available on social media services?

One way is to visit each site and see if it’s available.

OR, just use namechk!

It’s as straight forward as can be.  Enter what you’d like for a username and Namechk checks to see what’s available.

When I ran it, it checks 158 different resources.

This is addictive!  It’s so useful at so many levels.

  • It’s a great way to find new services.  I had no idea of some of them.
  • It’s humbling for people with big egos like me to find out that I’m not the only “dougpete” out there.  I wonder who was the original?
  • It’s also a nice check to find some resources that I might have signed up at one time and haven’t used for a while.

So, if you’re interested in the motherlode, this is a great place to start.