Diigo Vs. Evernote Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking is not a new tool to the digital world. But, it was only last quarter that I discovered these platforms. Prior to using Diigo, I was still using my bookmarking menu on my browser. Even my normal life without technology is hectic, but once I add a mobile device, iPad, and a laptop to the mix it gets even more chaotic. I am shocked that after two years of school, how much information I have consumed and collected. As a result, my Internet bookmarking menu was too extensive and disorganized. Fortunately for me, Jane encouraged us to start using a better management system and introduced us to Evernote.

I thought after writing about Diigo for our differentiation injury project it would be useful to compare the two. Here are some of the useful characteristics of both: free, searchable and taggable.

Standing alone, Diigo is better at sharing links and notes openly. Diigo is also better for collaboration. It has the capacity to maintain a larger database of notes and links that are more effectively collectively organized and sharable. Additionally, it also allows people read more effectively with highlighting and annotation tools.

As for Evernote, this platform provides the users the ability to work offline and create private notes. Additionally, Evernote can be synced to multiple devices and keep track of appointments and record your experiences.

Both platforms are useful, but my solution for getting the best results would be to use them both until something better comes along. However, they far exceed my outdated Internet bookmarking tool that I was previously using. Get out there and start bookmarking!!!

Differentiation

This morning we sat as a SPED team to discuss student placement for next year. As we were going through the lengthy list, our group topic regarding differentiation continued to cross my mind. Most teachers typically need to design different curriculums because of varying abilities. And differentiation seems like an obvious answer for providing different avenues for learning. But, as a group we were reluctant to place certain kids into particular general education classrooms. All of our students have designated IEPs and should receive accommodations. But, we often find that certain teachers are less flexible when developing teaching materials and assessments to meet the students’ learning needs. After the meeting concluded, I walked away wondering what I could do differently and how I could use tech tools to appeal to diverse students.

On a better note, this week I found Graphite and introduced it to my coworkers. We needed to select apps to install on our classroom iPads. Unfortunately, the district has placed financial restrictions on app purchases and we can only purchase 5-7 apps per device. This was a fantastic resource that provided reviews about the best digital tools, and it is incredibly quick and easy to use!

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Digital Citizenship

Most of the students on my caseload consist of kindergarteners and a handful of third graders. Our students have limited opportunities to use technology in the school. Our kindergartners can only access the Mac lab one day a week, whereas the third graders have no access until fifth grade. And when our students have the opportunity to engage online, district controls limit most of what they can access. Regardless of their connectivity, I constantly have to remind myself of the importance of teaching digital citizenship.

Last week I was observing a fifth grader slyly maneuvering his way past district controls to unlock a blocked site. It only took him a matter of minutes to be successful. I stopped him immediately to review our school policy about accessing restricted material. He was unfazed by our conversation and continued to tell me that he accesses violent content on the Internet all the time. He also informed me that he has Facebook account that he uses on a daily basis. The legal age for a Facebook account is 13 and he is 11. I became increasing concerned about his digital identity.

“We are suggesting to young people that they can’t expect to have any agency in their relationship with digital technologies. By responding with surveillance and control, we effectively tell them that the solution to social problems is surveillance and control.”

As much as I agree with this quote from Our Focus on Internet Risk Fails Children, I felt the need to “control” what he was doing because I wanted to protect him. But, I realized that teaching kids about privacy and security is only one portion of our responsibility as teachers. I have no way of monitoring what my students do in the confines of their homes. We need to model and teach the correct behaviors so that they know how to conduct themselves in the technology world. It begins by selecting age-appropriate topics to teach. It makes sense to start with topics like how to use technology and the idea of cyber safety. As students progress in the digital world, they will hopefully understand the best practices on using the Internet safely and the “The 9 key Ps”. In addition to Common Sense Education and digital citizenship, I have really enjoyed Brain Pop’s lesson plans regarding digital citizenship as well (Check it out)!

Privacy

When I was growing up, both of my parents worked in law enforcement. My father was a seasoned police captain and my mother was a support specialist for the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC). Both of my parents were active personnel in searching the net for predators. It is safe to say that I grew up afraid of the Internet. After reading Megan Cottrell’s article regarding children’s privacy, I had to reflect upon my childhood experience. I never remember anything about privacy settings, nor do I remember anything about tracking. But, these were the days of the colored iMac desktop computers. Technology has rapidly changed and so has the Internet.

Children need to be encouraged to create their own digital footprint. If they are given clear direction, from both educators and parents, students have the capacity to understand the benefits and risks involved when venturing online. The reality is that children need safe access to the Internet because of its many benefits. “Respecting the privacy of young people means honoring their intellectual freedom and keeping their information private, as well as teaching them how to be good digital citizens, she says. She [Caldwell-Stone] cites the National Academy of Sciences’ metaphor of the Internet as a swimming pool: It offers plenty of opportunities for recreation and learning, but it can be dangerous, too.” We need to examine the transparency regarding online privacy and look at how data is collected. There should be definitive opt-out choices for parents and children, as well as “take-down” policies when children or parents accidently post private information. Parents may also want to consider what they post in regards to their children. Going forward, I will have to think about privacy and the impact it has on students.

PowToons

I wanted to further elaborate on my experience with PowToons. On Wednesday, I stood in front of the class and testified that the platform was “terrible”. I still stand by the fact that it was terrible! But, regardless of that fact, I did gain something from the process…a lesson in patience.

            The rainbow spinning wheel of death was my archenemy during the time spent collaborating with Stacey. Any time there was something moved or added within a slide, the rainbow ball would appear. I was so frustrated with the amount of time we were spending to complete this product. But, it was during this time that I was able to reflect and re-examine our book more closely. Had it not been for this, I would have missed the opportunity to make sure that I was considering everything within the text. And even though I was frustrated with the platform, I would have much preferred my students exploring this tool than taking the SBA test. I guarantee that they would have gained more applicable skills needed to navigate the 21st century.

The Connected Educator: Book Circle Video Presentation

The Connector Educator was an insightful read. Nussaum-Beach and Ritter Hall provide step-by-step instructions on using different media tools to connect learning and build connected relationships. The interactive text takes you on an individual journey that supports one’s endeavors when building personal learning networks. I highly recommend this book! After watching Anton’s presentation on PowToons, Stacey and I were intrigued. This platform seemed like and creative way to deliver content from our book circle. However, the platform was a nightmare! It took what seemed like hours to get to the completed product. Even though it was creative, it was quite a struggle. Stacey had her own set of issues while I had mine (the rainbow spinning wheel of death was just one example). If you choose to use PowToons with your students, make sure that you are prepared for the possible mass of technical issues that may occur.

Operator Error, Google Drawing

I have just experienced an operator error moment! This was originally my post for Thursday, but you can only imagine my surprise when I opened WordPress and found it sitting unpublished! I had neglected to hit the publish button after I previewed. I am sorry about this delayed posting (#fail). For my independent study this quarter, I have been creating visual schedules for our SpEd program. I had originally planned on using our devices to create these schedules, but we only have three iPads for twenty students.
Apps-Drawings-icon.jpgAdditionally, many of our students have emotional regulation issues and if left unattended with the devices, they do not always survive (we originally had four iPads at one point, one was shattered against the corner of table :/ ). With all of this in mind, I sought out trying to create a visual menu using an outline platform that enabled sharing and printing options. BAM! Google drawing! Now I know what you are thinking, Google drawing? Yes, Google drawing! It may be a simplistic platform and not quite as high tech and fancy as illustrator, but Google drawing is user friendly and creates a collaborative space where menu items can be easily altered and printed. We often have printed visual schedules accessible to students in their classrooms so they can refer to them at anytime. As a result of Google, I have had the opportunity to build a virtual menu of items that all staff can access and change based on the needs of their students. Everyone can contribute by using shapes, arrows, text, and imported images to build a visual map for any task. And like Google documents, it tracks revision history and changes, making it easy to see what contributions staff members have made. I will continue to keep you updated as I explore this platform and I would appreciate hearing about your experiences if you have used Google drawing in the past.

The Final Chapters

“Growing a personal learning network takes time, effort, and perseverance. Remember to take the posture of a learner. You will grow as you go.” (Nussbaum-Beach & Ritter-Hall). The last four chapters remind me that engagement and interaction is cultivated within our classrooms and that the community we build serves as the cornerstone of our students’ education. It is important that we actively participate in these communities ourselves. community.jpgNussbaum and Hall advocate for us to do so in the digital world so that we can learn properly before we lead. They stress the importance of using technology as a means of connection.Learning online gives us the ability to connect to a broader network of people, people that may not otherwise be reachable to us. And once we learn in these communities, we have the capacity to help students create their own learning networks.
Nussbaum and Hall provide directions on how to develop a connected learning community as well as sustain as a connected learner, and they offer tools to use while doing so.

However, even with these elicit directions, I am still stuck in a lurking stage.

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I’m still stuck in the wading pool trying to develop my personal learning network. Hence the quote above, “growing a personal learning network takes time…” I still think that I need more time. Regardless of this fact, I have made progress. I have pushed myself to connect, collaborate and create. The authors have done an excellent job at making me consider all aspects of my teaching and what I could add to my toolbox. I recommend this book to anyone interested in building their professional development in the world of connected learning.

 

Speed Geeking & Chapter 5

Speed geeking and Chapter 5 have complimented each other nicely. Chapter 5 discusses utilizing tools to support connected learning and speed geeking show us step-by-step how to use these tools and more. I am enjoying our book, but I realize that one of my favorite components of this class is the weekly speed geeking tool presentations. In the past, I have considered myself a self-proclaimed geek. Boy, was I wrong. Every week I’m reminded how naïve and unaware I was of what lies on the web. A handful of these tools and that have been introduced to us are platforms that I have never heard of, nor experienced. Fortunately, as a result of our in-class sessions and online work I have been able to use these “new” tools and apply them to my practice. And even though I have not created anything amazing out of these tools quote yet, I am proud of my efforts thus far. However, what I find most agitating is,  “ [you] blink, and the online tools have changed” (Nussbaum & Hall). The Internet is rapidly changing and I honestly cannot keep up. It is a frustrating experience and I sometimes feel copious amounts of self-applied pressure to stay current. I know that these pressures exist because I want to provide my students with the best education possible.

Do you feel the same pressure?