Reflecting on learning and seeing the world in exciting new ways.

Posts tagged ‘paper bag lunch’

10 online portals for education

I gave a paper bag lunch presentation today called, “Where can I find …?“. I’ve come to realise that we make a lot of assumptions about people’s ability to search for and organise the flood of information available online. Apart from the ubiquitous Google, many people have few other tools at their disposal to help them with their searching. We talk about using online resources with our students to complement our teaching and learning. However, where do you go to find, investigate and explore resources that are both relevant and suitable?

In today’s session, I gave an overview of ten ‘portal’-type websites (some self-publishing) that I find are great starting points for stimulating my thinking, along with some valuable suggestions from one of our friendly library staff. There are many, many more and we could have gone on for much longer than our lunch hour allowed. The examples we looked at today are primarily free for non-commercial use and most offer both public and private setting options.

YouTube logoYouTube
Possibly the ultimate video sharing website, YouTube allows users to upload, share and view videos online. You can find almost anything on YouTube. That’s both a good and a bad thing. As with any form of social media, users need to be understand how to make a service work for them while being aware of potential security issues. However, this should not mean that we avoid using services like this ‘just in case’ we encounter issues. We talked about making good use of features like playlists, favourites, and channels, as well as tools such as embedding, sharing, and user comments and ratings.

TeacherTube logoTeacherTube
Kind of like YouTube for teachers. There are multitudes of educational resources available including video, audio, documents, photos, groups and blogs. The range of resources can be used to support teaching and learning from early childhood to tertiary education as well as professional learning and teacher development.

Flickr logoFlickr
Photo and video sharing. Flickr can act as a hosting site for blogs and wikis which require images to be linked from an existing URL (rather than uploading them to their particular platform), as it generates the necessary code. JPEGs, non-animated GIFs and PNG files up to 10MB can be shared or up to two 150MB videos per month.

SlideShare logoSlideShare
A sharing site for slide show presentations in PPT, PDF and Open Office formats. SlideShare generates URLs and embed codes for blogs and websites and provides a transcript of each presentation.

TED logoTED Talks
Stemming from the TED global conferences, the TED Talks section features keynote-style videos from international thought leaders in science, technology, design, education, thinking and global issues.

EDtalks logoEDtalks
A collection of video interviews, discussions and presentations from thought leaders, innovative educators and inspirational learners. Videos range in length and depth from 5-minute ‘conversations’ to full-length keynote presentations. EDtalks is produced and published by CORE Education.

Arts & Letters Daily logoArts & Letters Daily
A service from the Chronicle of Higher Education, Arts & Letters Daily shares stories from around the globe 6 days a week. Seemingly random, there is guaranteed to always be something to spark your interest.

ReadWriteWeb logoReadWriteWeb
A web 2.0 and technology blog launched in 2003 by a Lower Hut resident from his living room. It is now ranked as one of the top 20 blogs and has writers based all around the world.

Mashable logoMashable
Another living room blog; this one started in Scotland. It is one of the busiest websites in the world with 30+ million monthly page views. The focus is generally on social media but Mashable also blogs about technology, entertainment, gadgets and more.

Common Craft logoCommonCraft
A series of three-minute videos that introduce and explain topics or concept. Largely technology related, they are presented in a very low-tech style and using a plain English approach. They look deceptively simple but do a great job of explaining topics which can be, well … hard to explain.

Delicious online bookmarking

Delicious logoOur second paper bag lunch was held today. It was a small, informal session called Delicious online bookmarking. The purpose was to introduce staff members to the benefits of online bookmarking, as opposed to saving websites to the Favourites or Bookmarks menu on their browsers. Delicious is one of several social bookmarking tools available freely online and I have long been a fan of the service.

A few weeks ago, I started cleaning up my delicious account. That’s when I discovered that I’d been using it since August 2003 – that’s a pile of links to collect and store! Inevitably, many were no longer current or relevant. Some sites that were once useful to me during my primary teaching career were less helpful now. Many had new URLs which needed updating. Others needed deleting altogether. It’s kind of like cleaning out your basement or moving house; you have no idea just how much stuff is stored away ‘just in case’ until you take a proper look. My tag bundles still need sorting, but that will be a job for another day.

So, what did we talk about today? I had compiled a basic presentation about the benefits of social or online bookmarking. What would happen to your locally-stored favourites menu if your computer met an untimely end tomorrow? What if you’re travelling or away from your laptop and want to refer to a site you’ve saved at home? How can you easily access the bookmarks you saved at work from your home computer? We also looked at an example of how a team at our workplace has set up a shared delicious account for sharing links and ideas. It’s still developing in size and scope with about 50 staff members having access to the account. No doubt we will see some tagging conventions evolve over time.

As part of my presentation, I showed this SlideShare presentation about Using delicious to decrease emails. Hopefully in time we’ll find that our shared delicious account results in fewer workplace emails containing links to useful sites (or emails saying, “I’ve saved this site in our delicious account”). It would be even better to see a shift in behaviour whereby users log in to delicious as a normal part of their everyday practice, rather than waiting for external prompts such as emails and meetings. 🙂

The world of RSS

We held our first paper bag lunch today. This was the first in a series of sessions happening every week to enable and promote informal learning at our workplace. We had twelve people come and go during the hour, most of whom had brought their lunch with them. Feedback has been positive; in time, I hope the message will spread that this is a welcoming, open forum for sharing professional learning and celebrating best practice and innovation within our organisation.

RSS iconMy first topic was The world of RSS. The idea was to introduce staff to the concept of using a tool to bring the world of online information to them, rather than having to go searching for it every day. It seems to have been a good starting topic; some staff members were aware of what RSS was, a few had tried setting up feeds for themselves, while others hadn’t heard of it before. We talked about using tools such as RSS to manage and organise the flow of online information. It’s a bit like the fire hydrant analogy; trying to process information from the internet is like trying to take a sip of water from a fire hydrant. Lots of questions followed.

A big part of today’s session involved trialling a structure for future presentations. By keeping to five basic focus questions, I’m curious to discover whether this structure will work with any topic while still allowing room for discourse and questions. I’m hoping to structure each presentation using the following framework:

  • What is the topic about?
  • Why would I use/do/think about …?
  • How do I go about …?
  • What are some examples of … in action?
  • Where can I find out more information about the topic?

 The challenge now is to work with colleagues (‘experts’ from within our organisation) to use this structure and host paper bag lunches of their own. Also, I need to redevelop our intranet area so that presentations and supporting information can be easily accessed and shared from a central online space. Oh, and I need to do it all again next Wednesday at lunch time! 🙂