Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Social Networking for the Under-14 Crowd

Will Richardson posted today that Nickelodeon and Disney are entering the social networking market. Their target is the under-14 crowd. Nickelodeon's site launched in January. Disney's is still in beta. Will links to an article at USA Today that provides a comparison table.

I plan to spend some time checking these out. Many of our students use Neopets and Club Penguin so I've been thinking I need to go check them out. Now I have four sites to check out. I am wondering if/how I'll need to revamp our internet safety strand in our curriculum in response to these sites. This year, it seemed that few of our third graders spent much time online. That seems to change over the year. Last fall some fourth graders knew what chat and IM were. Most of the fifth graders knew and at least half were using those tools. I predict that is all about to change with Disney in the game.

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Promethean Task?

Trial by fire this past week. Tomorrow will mark my one week anniversary of being relocated while unexpected repairs have forced the closure of my office, my lab and the other rooms in my wing.

With the closure of my lab, I took over one of the drop-in labs. This has been a real problem for teachers because they have project in progress and now can't get lab time to finish. The tech teachers are accommodating them as much as we can, but it is a distant second best.

The primary school has saved the day by giving us complete access to their drop in lab. This is especially good because our music department just began to use Music Ace. They alone can completely fill a lab, so the timing isn't great, even though the growth of the kids is.

The librarian gave my assistant and me shelter on the lovely top floor of the library. I spend a lot of time running up and down floors between lab and office. Good exercise but bad for my productivity.

The workmen all over the building are inadvertently taking computers off-line, so when I'm not teaching I'm rushing around trying to get the remaining labs and classroom computers back online.

On top of that, it is the time of year to work with administration to pull next year's budget into shape.

In the midst of all of this, I forgot that Promethean was loaning us an interactive white board to trial starting today through Feb. 23. It arrived this afternoon and we weren't able to put it where we wanted to place it so it is now in the lab I am teaching in. Not the best timing, since there isn't a blank moment in the lab during or after school between now and when the boards leave, especially since Monday and Tuesday are the Lunar Holiday.

However, despite what this may sound like, I'm not complaining. Every minute of every day is exciting and varied and puts me in contact with kids and teachers. After this, any job besides special agent is going to feel slow.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Tagging Troubles

I've been using for a few years now. I really like how it works. Before that I'd used Backflip, but tagging works better for me than filing. Therefore, I'm glad tagging is slowly expanding to other apps. I can tag my photos in iPhoto, and my mail in Gmail. In fact, in the apps that don't have it, I keep losing things-- for example, I wish our Outlook at work could tag. I wish my and even the Finder at home could, although Spotlight usually does find what I need eventually.

Given my success with tagging, it surprises me that in the past few weeks, I keep finding myself at a loss for a tag. Usually what happens is that reading a blog post leads me to a website that I want to tag. I'll hit the tool on my web browser which takes me to my account, and there I sit. I can't figure out what tags to give the page.

I think my problem lies in that given my new job, I'm often now sure of why or how I'm going to use the information. I know it is good stuff and I'll want to get to it again, but I don't yet have a big enough picture to foresee where.

Another piece of the problem is that my tags are so full, are so broad, that they are starting to feel less useful. For example, two years ago I started to use a web_apps tag. Back then I was adding a page or two a month using that tag. Now I could add a few a week. The tag is too broad to be useful, but I don't really want to start breaking the apps down by type. I need a different way to organize them, but I can't see what it is.

I'm experiencing that same confusion in many areas. For example, there have been a number of interesting education manifestos on the web and samples of next generation tech planning. How to tag those beyond ed_change and tech_coord? I've tried seeing how other people have tagged the same sites, but that hasn't given me any better ideas yet. Is anyone else experiencing this tagging block? Has anyone found a way around it?