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Before this week I hadn’t used Twitter much. I was asked to ‘tweet’ as part of an event that I volunteer for a while ago where we were using it as a marketing tool to get people to come along but didn’t really know what I would use it for. Part of the issue is that I have a very basic mobile with no web connection so didn’t get the same functionality that I know other people with web enabled mobile devices do. I also hadn’t clicked about what ‘following’ could do as had not realised its potential for keeping people informed about really useful stuff.

Thanks to the snow I have been using it a lot – keeping tabs on my son’s college and the buses and it has been very good. I know I could have kept checking on different web sites for info but having it all in one place is very useful and have appreciated the ‘retweets’ from Cheryl and Sue. Am now going to sign up to follow more of the Hudds Uni sites as I think that will keep me in touch.

Didn’t think there would be anything I could do with Lanyard as am not able to attend many conferences these days due to family commitments but when I got there found Cheryl was attending one that I am going to in April. However since I already knew she is going and it is at Hudds Uni anyway and she is in the office opposite mine I will probably talk to her while we are there rather than tweet. But you never know!

Had heard about LinkedIn but not used it before. I think it might be useful when I get fully underway with my research but that does depend on how detailed the info is that people in my field put about their interests. Did find it interesting that Sue and I share all but one interest (I’m not into netball!)

So far this week I think Twitter is my winner even though I am limited to using it on a PC.

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When I watched the introductory video for Library Thing my first thought was that there was so much info on this site how would I find my way round it. On registering I was very pleased to see that they had local book group and reading events info – how did they know where I was though? I put in my work e-mail but that is not specific to Huddersfield – is it through IP address, is Big Brother really watching me? Not that I mind, just curious as to how they do it 🙂

I have added some books I regularly use in teaching but couldn’t remember all author names so only have  a few – was very impressed at the way it found all I searched for – the database behind this must be huge. I can see this being useful as a virtual reading list for my students and as I love buying and reading books would probably use it for personal info. Not sure how I would use in my research – I suspect my topic is mainly to be found in journals rather than books.

A very interesting resource and one to go back to.

The Mendeley site could be very useful to me once I get really into my doctoral research – I like the idea of being able to access all of one author’s papers from their profile rather than having to go and find them through Summon etc – rather like an academic version of looking at someone’s Facebook likes and photos! I suppose it depends like all things who is using it. I have not been able to add many of my library as am doing this from home and have ony limited resources here.

I was not certain what Cite U Like was until I watched the video then it clicked.  On an aside I agree with Sue’s comments about the name – I actually worked for a fast food baked potato company called Spud U Like while a student and it does sound tacky!

I have found the videos very useful for every topic – it is a very good way of explaining things and is something I am exploring in my own teaching. One of the things that I love about WWW2 is the video creation and sharing – when YouTube was first around I thought  it was merely going to be a collection of ‘You’ve Been Framed’  type funnies but there is so much useful work on there and doing 25 Things has made me realise that there is a lot more useful instructional work than I ever realised. I use it a lot for work but not in that way so will definitely explore this – I like the fact that they can be embedded into a blog post as well so you can contextualise the learning.

So to sum up some very useful tools this week – the best one is Delicious – the others will be more so once I can spend some time on them and when I get more into my research – at the moment have little to put into some of them and being pragmatic will spend the most time on the most useful at present.

Delicious

This could be my new best friend. I have known about this for a few years as our Academic Skills tutor uses it and I kept thinking, ‘I really must use it for my teaching’. But I never got around to doing to so my poor students have had a series of handouts each year with lists of websites on which of course they might well lose and I have to find and edit and print out again each year.

It could also solve my recent problem as I have been trying to update the resources list on Blackboard  for an online module that I have just started working with. I find Blackboard very difficult to use – I have just uploaded my 5 resources to Delicious in about 15 minutes and the ‘Save to Delicious’ button I now have on my toolbar is wonderful. It took me hours to do the resources section on Blackboard, copying and pasting URLs in from different sites when I could have just put one link – see my Delicious site! I also really liked the way that they suggested tags and they were always very relevant meaning I just had to click on them rather than type in my own.

One very minor point – the Common Craft video was excellent again. I love the way they use paper and animation to explain technology – that amuses me and I think it is very effective but the buttons they described in the video were not the same ones I ended up with on my toolbar. Not  a problem for me but may confuse some.

I am very much enjoying exploring all these new tools – only problem is I can see myself staying up way past my bedtime to play with them all!Oh and I have just noticed ‘the how many other people have bookmarked this site’ tab and have just looked at some of their bookmarks and that is going to be really useful – may be getting no sleep at all.

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.

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!

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!

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