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Evaluation

I have gained a huge amount from doing this course, particularly as Sue and Cheryl have said from the other blogs. I have been able to look at so many good resources from other people that I have already been using in my teaching.

 The format of the blog with tasks linked to other blogs responding to tasks has been really good and I am now just about to replicate this with my teacher trainees. They are due to go out on block placement so we won’t see them for six weeks and we had always intended to set up online activities for them. The platform of choice by default was to be Blackboard but I have chosen to use blogs and going to trial the same model with minor differences in terms of the workload. I find Blackboard extremely frustrating , non intuitive and fragmented – I have been using it for 10 years and God knows I have tried to love it but it is not working for me! Am off to a preview soon of the new Blackboard which I hope includes a button to blow it all up and develop something that people can actually understand!

 I agree with Sue it was a lot of hours particularly in the first few weeks where there were lots of new things that I spent a long time thinking about and setting up – in later weeks we were looking at things  I knew about so it wasn’t so intensive for me. It was not that those hours weren’t available as I spend 2-3 hours a day bogging and social networking but it cut into my ‘social’ use of these things but for a limited time that was fine.

Most useful things I think have to be Delicious – very sad that it might go – RSS feeds and blog readers (being very much a blog addict!) and Slideshare. Once I get really into my research I can see that Mendeley and Cite U Like will be more useful.

I have really enjoyed the little community that we have built here and looked forward to finding out about more about people who work at Hudds Uni which was one of my aims for the course. I am very impressed how much of people’s personality has come over through this interaction – I feel I have got to know people as people through their posts – what they feel strongly about and their experiences and I think that is very much to do with the quality of the contributions they have made – they have all shared lots of things about their experiences doing the course but also their interests and lives.

I think having access to Twitter feeds as well ( as I have been following Sue and Cheryl)  has helped as there has been lots there that has enabled me build the bigger picture of them.Cheryl and I have known each other for a number of years and our offices are opposite each other but her Twitter feed and blog has enabled me to find out more about her interests as well as we don’t get a lot of time to interact face to face at work.

On  practical note please  leave this blog live so that when I forget what Mendeley is and how to use it in a few months I can some back and look at the info!

My other ‘thing’ is a resource I use constantly at work – Teachers TV  – set up to produce short digital videos  for professional development of teachers – originally shown on cable late at night as well as ‘catch up’ through the web. Although not a collaborative resource like You Tube it is a very, very useful repository – lots of real life footage filmed in schools and colleges and invaluable for those in my field. Sasha you may find it useful to look at what is available as resources for teachers in your PhD topic. I have heard that funding is being cut for it (how novel!) but hopefully the archives will remain.

For me having WordPress as the platform made it very easy to set up and contribute – might have been more of a challenge in Blogspot!

Have really enjoyed it – thank you very much for the chance to do this and I will miss not doing it – however I will have more time to catch up with my crafting blogs now!

Am going to leave you with a pic of one of my fave places in all the world – was trying to find a good pic from Flickr but all the ones I  liked were ‘all rights reserved’ so you have one of mine instead.

This is La Marina in Spain – I will be here in 5 weeks time!

The salt flats in between the beach and the mountains

Thanks

Alison

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Apologies I thought I posted this one a while ago but found it was still in draft form. Here is is.

Inspired by DigiandyRB’s post I went and analysed my personal blog and it is very accurate – here is what it says –

Written by a middle aged woman between 36 and 50 it is personal  (99% and 1% academic) and mostly happy (95% – the other 5% will be me moaning about having a cold, or a bad back or too much marking!).

I am also is the 91st most happy of 5052 ranked blogs which is very nice as I like to be happy on and offline! I did try to get pics of the stats but could not get it big enough for you to see.

Have not tried 21st task yet due to deluge of family over Xmas but 22nd we use a lot here. Not for academia but for general fact checking though I do show it to my students with a health warning. Tonight my son used it to look up when Islam started as a world religion as we were watching Prince of Persia on DVD and were having a little discussion about the god that they were referring to in the movie.I think it is ok if you know what you are expecting to find and always double-check anything important.

 Think it is a great resource is it is treated as what  it is meant to be a chance for people to share their knowledge. Do not expect to see it referenced in things that I mark though Wakefield College who are one of our teacher training partners have set up their own Wakeypedia for sharing knowledge but that is monitored. Cannot find you the link on Google as it all keeps crashing when I search. Thought that DigiAndyRB’s post on Wikipedia and its censorship was very interesting.

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Flickr pics and mashups

Well I have finally added to the great and the good on Flickr. I have tended not to use it up until now as I post weekly on my personal blog and usually upload pics with each post and have not really felt the need to replicate that. However it was easy to do and I can see the value of having lots of pics in one place to share with family. I have several friends who use Flickr in conjunction with their personal blogs and it does mean that you can see everything in one place rather than having to visit each blog post.

Here is one of the pics I posted tonight – I make Xmas ornaments as a hobby and these are two I finished this week.

Reindeer ornie 1

The back and the front of the ornaments

I find the WordPress picture uploader very easy to use. I really liked the mashups that I looked at – especially the colour picker one – I can see that being really useful if you were doing a themed presentation for example. One thing I found very interesting about this week’s task was that I had not realised that Flickr had privacy settings for each upload, makes sense but had not occurred to me before.

Just one tiny thing that annoys me – after all my years spent teaching adult literacy – why oh why does everything now have to be missing a vowel or two – Flickr, Colr Pickr, Mappr, retrievr – what is going on! Ok Victor Meldrew moment over, but is it just hip or am I missing some significant piece of WWW 2.0 technology – do too many vowels crash the internet or something?

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I think tags – along with categories and a Category Cloud which you can add through the Widgets on your blog (go into Appearance then Widgets and drag the label in to to the right hand side of the page) are really useful things.

 As Sue said in her post you sometimes don’t know what tags you need until you have done a lot of posts so I have found I have add to add tags and re-tag. The one thing I did find out by experience is that WordPress tagged all my personal blog posts as ‘uncategorized’ by default (this blog doesn’t seem to be doing that) and I didn’t notice so when I did put in a Category Cloud I had loads of uncategorized posts that I had to go and remove the tag from manually – a huge pain!

I think they do give order to the reader of the blog as they help them focus on what is most important in that blog. I like the way the Category Cloud looks as well from an aesthetic point of view . I like to see on blogs which is the biggest category as that helps me decide if to read it further or not which is important if you get there by a random search. There might be only 1 post on the topic that you want to read or 300 and this helps represent that visually and give you a quick link in. Most of the blogs I read regularly have been going for 3 or 4 years and have hundreds of posts so it saves lots of time. I don’t think the Category Cloud is a feature on all blog platforms though unless people don’t use it.

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Finding blogs and RSS feeds

I used the Google Blog Search to look for blogs on informal learning which is the topic of my Ed D .This was something I didn’t know existed so I was really pleased with the results . I use Google a lot and normally would have just done a general search but have got some good hits which I will need to investigate further.

As for RSS feeds I did get a bit confused at first – after reading Cheryl’s posts I tried search4rss.com but it didn’t seem to work – maybe it was having an off day! A search for RSS using Google led me to a good article about RSS feeds on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS which was interesting especially the article on the comparison of RSS feeds http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_feed_aggregators – there are so many!

From that list I chose  Blog Bridge  http://www.blogbridge.com/ – was attracted by the tag line ‘the ultimate info-junkie system’ as I would probably qualify as one of those! Installation was straightforward – I signed up for a few of their guides for edublogs etc. and then added a couple of guides of my own and added feeds from my existing favourite blogs. I think I will find this useful to organise all the blogs I already use and will save time rather than flicking through my favourites list. Now all I need is to find a craft blog with a knitting pattern on it to make the extra day a week I need to read everything!

I loved the idea of the Google in Plain English video animation – another one to show my students and it explained the concept of readers really well I thought.

I subscribed to Google Reader and added 5 feeds as requested but didn’t find the interface as good to work with or as intuitive as the Blog Bridge one. As soon as I got into the reader I was give a huge list of suggested feeds on all sorts of random topics and it took a while to work out how to get rid of it as it was distracting. The process of adding feeds was ok but I think I prefer Blog Bridge.

I did find though that as I was going through my Favourites adding things that if I clicked the RSS button on a site I could add it straight to Google Reader from the site so that will be an advantage rather than having to add it manually to Blog Bridge.However not all the sites I visit have the button – will have to go and check if I do on my personal blog? Most of the Blogger ones seem to but not some of the other brands – interesting!

Well in conclusion I feel I understand what RSS feeds are and the readers will be useful – have enjoyed these tasks and feel like I have got a lot out of them .They would have been completed so much faster if I had not just kept clicking on interesting things that I found on the internet while I was doing it though! Now off to look at the new foodie blogs I have been given in Blog Bridge!

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Technorati and blogland

I had not heard of Technorati and I did find the site a bit confusing to navigate – one of the things that put me off was the ads .I know a lot of sites use them to survive but I find them off putting, especially the flashing ones!

I did have a search for Huddersfield through the different sources but came up with very little, 1 for the Blog posts, 0 for the directory and nothing listed under tags. Did other people find the same thing?

Did find an interesting article on the state of Blogland 2010 and was particularly interested in the Mom blog phenomenon. About 10 years ago I worked for a community organisation whose brief was to offer free training on using the Internet as at that point women’s internet use was way behind men’s so was good to see that Mom blogs are the new thing.

Most of the blogs I read (in connection with my personal blog) are written by Moms – they are mainly about crafting activities which was not actually listed as a category so must be under ‘other’.

I found it interesting that they had analysed how people make money from their blogs – a lot of the Mom blogs I read have linked themselves in to sites like Folksy and Etsy to sell their hand-made goods – a lot of ‘cyber cottage’ industry going on which I am very interested in as a development of the web 2.0 technology.

Will investigate RSS tomorrow!

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Hello 25 things research group

My name is Alison and I work in the School of Education and Professional Development. I train post – 16 teachers so use quite a lot of technology in my work but don’t really link it all together very much.

I have a personal blog that I have run for the last 3 years but don’t do anything really whizzy with it so would like to learn more about the potential.This is why there is a link from my post to the About post on my other blog where I am registered as Stitches of Time which may confuse people.

The setting up of the blog was ok as I use WordPress for my blog – the only bit I had trouble with was that it initially would not let me load any of my own photos for the custom header but that was a glitch on the day and I have managed to sort that out now.

I think generally WordPress is easy to use and seems to be quite stable – I have not had any major problems with it.

It feels rather strange not knowing who is going to be reading this – with my other blog I feel I  know my audience now so it is a bit of an unknown as to how much detail people want to read – I am sure that this will get easier in the next few weeks.

One of the things I would like to enhance through this course is that after working at the University for 10 years I don’t really know many people from any other schools as we are always so busy . I use online contact a lot to keep in touch personally and professionally so am hoping this might enhance my collaboration with other staff here.

I am just about to start my doctorate and am going to be looking at informal learning and one of the areas I want to research is how people learn from blogs and forums so I thought this would be useful for me as well.

I thought that the initial video was excellent, really thought-provoking and really well made in terms of the graphics and would like to use that with my students.

Thanks

Alison

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