As I reflect upon EDES 501 Web 2.0 technologies, I feel proud of my endeavours and have learned a great deal from this class. I am pleased that I persevered with the course and saw it to its completion. I am very happy to have have learned that blogging is more than just sharing personal feelings about matters most likely only of interest to a select few. It has given me a means of communicating using the powerful Read/Write Web and this provides me with credibility in a profession that several have said is a dying profession. Sharing in the learning of numerous technologies has given me new knowledge and a certain comfort in using them. I feel more prepared to enter the world of learning in the library using these tools and sharing them with others.
When I began this course, I had forgotten just how intense a summer class is. Since this is only my second course toward my degree, I am not quite used to the regular fast pace, or the amount of reading and research required. After all, it has been quite a number of years since I last took my bachelors degree. Accompanying these aspects with the fact that I have been working out the numerous tasks and legalities associated with operating a farm, I was totally taken unawares. Although I had pre-read Richardson’s book, I really didn’t have a firm grasp on what was to come. When the first week of classes did begin, and we had to set up our blogs, which I had had no experience in doing; make sense of assignments and enter an initial posting, needless to say, I was overwhelmed and panicked. Because it took me the whole of two weeks of stumbling around in attempts to meet deadlines and using some means of how to handle the readings, postings, and experimenting with the technology and discussions, I was somewhat paranoid of forgetting something and spent many extremely late nights and early mornings posting. Feeling so overwhelmed, I decided to withdraw from the course. I just couldn’t see my way through the work and the estate work combined. It was after chatting with a colleague and expressing these frustrations that I found a way through my frustrations with the course. He suggested that I not worry so much about the extent of the course or my mark but rather think of all that I am learning and take away from the course what I could. At that time, as well as taking a different and less stressful attitude, I changed my strategy of attacking the content. Previously I had worked with the particular application we were learning and then I did the readings from the Trailfire Trail and lastly, my own research. I had thought this to be effective since I would have the opportunity of experiencing the application so that I would understand it thoroughly when I read the Trailfire articles, and videos. Had the course taken place within a regular semester, this might have worked. I switched strategies after the first two weeks because this method didn’t leave me enough time to complete the readings and the research required before needing to post and move on to a second application during the same week. I switched strategies so that I complete the readings, gather research articles and information, then investigate the particular technology tool being studied and attempt some of the tips suggested by various authors on the topic. Then I review the research, augment it with other articles as needed and write my post. Using this plan of attack, I found I was spending less essential time experimenting with and getting lost in the tool because I was taking the advice of numerous learned individuals of the technology. My experimentation quickly changed to informed research of the tool which has made all the difference. In this manner, I have been able to keep up with learning about two technologies per week. I am thankful that I found a way of handling time, and the information. I still haven’t been able to get much done on the farm, but I am very pleased that I did not drop the course.
Writing for an edublog has also had its challenges. Since I have not blogged before, establishing a voice has been a constant struggle. I feel that my strength in blogging has been engaging and connecting with the audience by including a little analogy or connection to the technology being studied. Most of the stories have come to me as small revelations as I reflect on how the technology has applied in my life. The blog entries where I have not had a personal connection, have caused me to reflect and broaden my thinking to include other aspects of my past such as older technologies used, or asking the questions, “Now, what does this remind me of?” and “What is this connected to vicariously in my life?” These questions have lead me to link my discussions to songs, characters from movies, videos from YouTube, quotes, and other personal connections. This part has been challenging but fun as it causes me to rethink the main focus of the technology and how change has occurred. Although I haven’t been able to tie all stories in at the end, satisfactorily, I feel that my introductions have been strong. Possibly because of having a personal connection, my voice in this part is also strong. However, I have found it difficult to maintain this lighter voice when dealing with the discussions of the technology and seem to take on a formal tone, especially in discussing technologies with which I am not yet totally comfortable in using. I enjoyed trying to be unique in my introductions and titles but found that toward the middle to end of the course, I was finding that I just needed to get on with the writing of the post in order to finish that portion of the assignment. While my voice in the blogs has been a mixture of inviting yet (hopefully) informative, I still don’t feel that my posts are as inviting as those of my classmates, many of whom allow their personalities to shine through the words, no matter what the topic. I have observed and enjoyed immensely how my classmates’ voices have developed and have enjoyed their humour, questions, suggestions and hints as to how to use the various tools.
It seems that when writing, I am consumed with explaining how to use the technology so that I can learn it better while discussing how other teachers might use the tool, but I forget to explain how other schools and libraries use the tools. Even though I have tried to be thorough in my discussions and posts, I have discovered that I have forgotten to include many of the points that I had originally wanted to discuss; I tend to want to include everything about the topic instead of focusing on a few details and aspects that make it unique while showing how other institutions use the technology. I believe that this partially stems from the fact that I am still learning about the numerous technologies we have investigated and learned about in the course but it is also indicative of the short time span in which we have to complete the reading, research, investigation of the technology and writing of the post. Another reason for this seems to be that when I consider the optimal length of a blog entry, if I add further insights or information, the already lengthy blog would become unreadable due to excess length. However, it has been most interesting to read my classmates’ blogs regarding the very technological tool that I had finished posting; this allowed me to review many concepts already learned, as well, they introduced me to new aspects and clarifications of concepts. Likewise, I enjoyed hearing Mack Male’s ideas and opinions regarding blogging and how connected he is. I admire his dedication to examine and expose ideas behind the controversial issues such as the closure of the downtown Edmonton municipal airport. Mack is likely more connected than most people; he has an easy, honest interesting communication style, both as a spoken and a written word author. It is evident that he has passion for what he does as he assists in making the local human condition better. I can only hope to aspire to his easy and informative style.
Plans for Using the Technology
Again because of the time factor, I don’t feel that my explorations of the numerous technologies were thorough. Although I was not intensely pleased with my demos of the tools such as my podcast, or my multi-media, I did learn much and feel that I can replicate the use of these technologies with relation to my library once I return to school. I am excited to learn more about these technologies as I prepare to market our library and offer sessions for staff and students in the near future. I belong to a teacher-librarian’s group in Calgary that meets every month to discuss relevant ideas and how we can better meet the needs of students and staff in our system. I hope to share my new knowledge with other teacher-librarians of this group as we advocate for use of these tools by students and staff in our schools. Since I am also chair of our school technology committee, I know that being familiar with more applications and the language of Web 2.0, will help me contribute in a much more vital forward thinking manner. Hopefully this committee will be able to take a far more visible presence in the school as we move toward integrating numerous technologies into curriculum areas. When I return to school, I will be working on building my D2L shell (informational and teaching program similar to Blackboard)and intend to incorporate a podcast and slideshare presentation about out school library. I have had the opportunity of viewing Laura's very professional looking tour of her library on slideshare. I had wondered how one could use this tool further from a library aspect and she demonstrated its use so thoroughly. I can see many more uses in the library for this technology as a result.
Last June, I began toying with the idea of inviting staff members to a once per monthly information and sharing about various topics around Web 2.0 tools. Now I know that I will introduce staff to each of the Web 2.0 technologies we have learned and provide them with some “down” time to simply play with and learn about the tools. I know that this will take some planning and further investigation of my own before I present the more sophisticated multi-media tools. Since Diigo and Delicious are such practical tools for staff and students, I plan to begin with these and will likely then introduce blogs as learning tools. I also want to incorporate numerous online free research sites available to schools as well. Many of these sites are suggestions from classmates which I will need to tailor for my school's use. Developing a more extensive virtual library is also one of my goals for the year followed by demonstrating this information to students and staff as we investigate inquiry-based learning. Of course this also means that I need to create or provide access to numerous “how-to” videos, Power Point presentations, and other sources of information so that if students or staff are working on a project but have forgotten some of the concepts, they can easily check our school web site and the D2L shell for 24/7 information. Part of my journey this year will include lobbying the district to create open-source-type classrooms. It will be interesting to see if I am able to access all of these Web 2.0 tools at school; since Wordle isn’t allowed and it appears to be a fairly simple, yet useful tool for vocabulary building and reinforcing of basic knowledge, it is highly likely that some of the other technologies will be blocked as well. I can only hope to “open the door” to our community of learners as we encounter the “Big Shift” of which Richardson speaks.
On My Blogging
I have enjoyed maintaining my blog and am gradually becoming more literate in Web 2.0. This blog has served as a means of tracking my learning but I know I will need to go back to review the various topics and technologies to practice their usage. I find it amazing that blogging has been so interesting and rather fun because I have never wanted to get anywhere close to working with HTML. My blog has offered me a means of expressing ideas and content without much worry about codes but I still need to figure out how to embed such things as page screens and videos not offered on YouTube. The directions in Blogger state that these actions require a “techno-geek’s” knowledge but with persistence and the help of some of my technology literate colleagues, I know that I will learn how to overcome these obstacles.
As teacher-librarian, I have frequently experienced a feeling of being separate from other teaching staff in my school; this blog has given me a feeling of being connected with other teacher-librarians and I hope this will continue as I blog for and with others from my school. Another item on my “to do” list is to review Richardson’s book and make time to attempt more of his ideas and suggestions. As a result of his thorough writing style I am no longer afraid to experiment with the technologies we have studied despite still wishing to improve my expertise and blogging style. I still feel that I am blogging exclusively for a course, so I will need to alter my voice and focus in future. I am also thinking of changing my blog name for school purposes as I feel that my current title is somewhat personal and not as professional as may be required. On the other hand, I still like the title and its informality may provide that level of comfort needed to entice staff to join in the blogging movement. I will likely poll some of my colleagues before making the final decision. I hope that with continued blogging, I will be able to develop my voice and move beyond simple blogging and sharing of information and personal experiences.
So, like the Seven dwarves, I approach this year’s school year with a cheerful and proud heart.
So, like the Seven dwarves, I approach this year’s school year with a cheerful and proud heart.
Thank-you, Joanne, for being a positive influence, one who gave me a gentle nudge into the exciting world of Web 2.0. Thank-you classmates for your enjoyable sharing of thoughts, ideas and blogs. It has been most interesting. Enjoy your last week(s) of summer and have a terrific semester.
Now, all together, “High ho, high ho, it’s off to work we go....”