Monthly Archives: September 2014

A New Use for Wordle

I remember when I first saw a Wordle.  I thought it was not only the coolest thing I’d ever seen, but I wanted to find a way to use it-somewhere.  Bringing creativity to the world of education is not only a way to continue to breathe life into your own material (which in turn can also help to keep it relevant), but it is also a way to find an abundance of opportunities to connect with your audience.  How often has someone shown you something and it stuck with you primarily because when you first saw it you thought…that was so cool!!

So with all of that said, imagine my excitement as I clicked on the ‘additional resources’ link today and realized that a Wordle could also be used as a social bookmarking tool.  I love that you can paste the entire article into the little box and you suddenly have a cool way to find prominent themes in the text.  And by choosing to share it with the world, you can then create an individualized url that allows you to save it to a bookmarking site.  This url could then be used for other internet based resources to house everything in one place.  Perhaps an extra step for some, but what a fun and eye-catching way to create a sort of abstract that you can use to quickly go back and find what could be useful-depending on your needs!

Wish you had a visual?  Check out this link of the one I created for one of our articles this week:

So fun!

Wavering in the World of Twitter

“Someone new is following me” I said aloud to my husband as I noted the update on my Twitter app.  “What?!” he responded, looking around alarmed.

I giggled in that moment before explaining what I meant, but then thought back on it as I read the article this week, 7 Things You Should Know About Twitter, that began with a note about Edward.  I related to this depiction of uncertainty that ended with appreciation, for I too am finding myself wavering between these two feelings.  Depending on the network that you find yourself among, you can leave enlightened and educated in lines limited to 140 characters or less.  Conversations can take place across miles and cultures, ones that may never occur in a normal setting.  And yet there is some scariness that I associate with being “followed” by people that I don’t know and, if nothing else, realizing that whatever I tweet is out there for everyone to see.

I also consider another article we read this week, Tweeting in Class, and think back to the conversations that we had in our own classroom.  The conversation was open and lively, but I wonder if any of us had more to say?  If not in that instance, have you in others?  Perhaps the use of this tool is not one that we feel comfortable with in idle chatter, but what if it was a tool used to participate in discussion?  A discussion in an undergrad classroom that held 50 students or perhaps even more?  How often as an undergrad did you not raise your hand or express your opinion simply because time would not allow for us to all do so?  Or was it even due to the feeling of uncertainty in your question or statement and how it may or may not be received?  But is it for this reason that some of us would still shy away from the use of this tool…..

I can’t say I’m totally convinced as to where I stand when it comes to the world of Twitter.  What I will say however is that there are possibilities that it may hold in opening up conversations that my not otherwise take place.  And in education, that is definately saying something.  Who knows where the next 140 character ah-ha may lead us?

“What Taylor did for the work of the hand, Google is doing for the work of the mind.”

When I first discovered the idea of Taylorism in HRD Management last semester, I was astounded at how often we may find the principles still at work today.  While images of a stopwatch and a harried worker may be the first thing that comes to mind for those that are familiar, think sincerely of your own workplace and whether or not a more modern version of that same picture may very well still be at play.  Now, take it a step further and apply that same framework to the internet and how we read and process information in today’s world.  Does this statement hold some truth?

I believe that Nicholas Carr, albeit that he pointed this out in his article Is Google Making Us Stupid in 2008, may have truly been on to something.  As quipped by the author in the article when referencing a conversation with an acquaintance, many minds are finding that they are beginning to think in a sort of “staccato” quality.  We scan information, stopping mid-way through to check email as it dings to alert its incoming.  We then return to that information, only to stop a few moments later again to ‘google’ a word and its meaning.  In class we crave interaction and may struggle to sit still long enough to read a lengthy passage or text.

It’s this sort of scattered thought or processing of information that Carr believes has come from our increased use (dependence?) on technology, or more specifically, the internet.  But it causes me to ponder whether or not this change in the taking in of information has also affected the way that we learn as well.  Our methodologies have changed due to technology’s influence, we now incorporate blogging and various methods into our learning assignments in class (as we do and are studying in 641!).  But is this more effective overall (collaboratively, cognitively, expansively)?  Or simply more effective as a result of the change in the way that our mind takes in information?

Shall I Trial It?

I was so excited about the various tools and their potential on Wednesday in class.  The timeline was perhaps my favorite as my imagination began to visualize the possibilities for reflection.  I began to think about my own reflection that will be coming due soon enough…as I round the corner to the end of my graduate studies (or is it???:), the need for a final reflection is also looming.  I wonder if in addition to the digital story, I may also use the timeline feature that we discussed in class.  How perfect that would be for the visual piece of the story as I think through and present my own progression over the last several years.  And as I think of this one possibility, I can’t help  but think about what other opportunities could be found within these tools we are discovering.  The world of education is truly evolving, and the possibilities for self expression to further a students’ understanding, retention, learning…is truly becoming just a mouse click away.

Can PLNs Lead to Greater Learning?

In thinking about the readings for week 1 and the idea gleaned from the article Learning Networks in Practice by Stephen Downes, I can’t help but appreciate the notion that PLNs are creating an environment where students are no longer encouraged to stay on topic or, in a way, to stay within the lines.  This new method of learning, whether used in adjunct or primarily, can provide the opportunity to open up possibilities for individualized learning that can equal greater retention and interest overall.   While structure may be the hardest thing to create in these learning avenues, the possibilities to provide such a vast way of meeting the learner’s desires is intriguing to say the least.  I’d love others thoughts on this, as online learning and LMS systems were not a strength at my previous employer and my inexperienced mind is just beginning to open up.