Saturday, January 30, 2010

tag, you're it - Multiliteracies

I'm reblogging posts from EVO 2010 Multiliteracies workhop; this one, tag, you're it, reflects belatedly on a Week 1 one assignment on tagging and folksomonies. My reflections tend to be more from a singular and personal perspective rather than the prescriptive by implication focus of collaborative and classroom perspectives. That is to say, more about just tagging and less about the essentially collaborative enterprise of tagging creating folksomonies, aka "shared metadata." Of course, tags that match other people's tags make searches not just easier but possible, but naming also speaks to how we think about, classify, things, ideas, pages, etc. Maybe there is something to be said for not starting out too dependent on the words and categories of others but instead coming to them from our own not borrowed understandings, not just receiving but negotiating meanings.

I truly intended to write about tagging and folksomonies last week when it would have been appropriate to syllabus and readings. Instead I've been tagging (not just evomlit related tagging either) and in the process thinking of my own personal tagging history, all the places I've come to tag, tags vs folders - aggregating, bookmarking.

I started with a Delicious account some years back, mostly as a reaction to having lost the big fat bookmarks file on my hard drive. Later I got back that file and imported it to delicious. Not only did my tagging leave a lot to be desired, I'd forget to do it at all way too often. Looking at old bookmarks now, I often wonder why I tagged them as I did. Better that though than untagged. Catching up on back tagging is tedious. I went "off" using Delicious for a while.

By the time I returned to online bookmarking, I'd been blogging for a few years. Tags there too, although I must confess to not having learned my lesson. I came to blog tagging belatedly. This time the task of back tagging a blog burned the necessity of tag-as-you-go into my brain ~ and with it better tagging habits, which carried over to other tagging areas.

Those include gmail, where it is the primary mode of organizing, feed readers, twitter and sure a few more that have slipped my. The Google feed reed reader also organizes by tagging, or rather tagging + folders created by primary tags that categorize the feed but with the option of adding tags to individual items.

Cut to the chase: there's a cumulative (dare I say aggregating?) effect at work here and well as an evolutionary one. My tag use is evolving. I doubt the trajectory is the same for all users of apps with tagging. In evolution, form follows function, which is not the same for every tag user. My own tags got better as my tagging evolved from aide memoire keywords to a filing system I eventually came to prefer to folders. Tag collections, each with its own url is such a giant leap forward from the ubiquitous static links page ~ so web 1.0. Now I am exploring Diigo and still need to work more on the sharing/ collaborative parts.

No doubt symptomatic of procrastination, I even started writing about e-portfolios and blogging v. microblogging for week 3. I stopped myself, cut the passage and pasted it to a new blog post that I save in drafts. Hopefully, having twice as many posts in drafts as published will encourage me to complete and publish this one.

Friday, January 22, 2010

coordinating networks

Cross-posting myself from my blog at the EVO Multiliteraces page on Ning. Evomlit, for short, is a workshop I am taking at the Electronic Village Online (the TESOL prequel)

Or drowning in them. Sink or swim: coordinate or drown? I just clicked Vance's overload article. "How can teachers deal with technology overload?" at As an example of overload, I started this post early in the first week, saved most of it to drafts without posting. We are now nearing the end of the second week, and, after over a week of "I'm going to finish that post today." That was then: today is today. Maybe this "today" is the day.

Overload: it's not just for the classroom. There are also personal networks, non-classroom professional networks, community networks, special interest networks, and so on. Nor are all networks separate, discrete and clearly delineating entities. They overlap, some more than others.

Vance addresses the challenge teachers face when they "need to master so many new skills" but also reminds readers (including me) that "these competencies have been needed since the turn of the century" with skill sets continually enlarging in this one. In order to survive in these waters, like sharks, we need to keep moving and feeding.

What do we need to be familiar with? Let me count the ways, tick them off the list of skills and concepts that Vance adapted from himself (adapted from Stevens, 2008). Yes, you can read them in the article but repeating is aide memoire for me as well.

1. Web 2.0 and social networking
2. RSS and feed readers
3. Podcasts (harvesting and producing them)
4. Microblogging (e.g. Twitter, Edmodo)
5. Distributed and personal learning networks
6. Aggregation and tagging
7. Digital storytelling and applications of multimedia to new literacies
8. Communities of practice and connectivism
9. Informal / just-in-time (JIT) learning
10. Synchronous communication tools such as: instant messaging, online presentation venues incorporating interactive whiteboard, voice, and video
11. Asynchronous collaborations tools such as: blogs, wikis, Voicethread, Slideshare, Google docs, etc.

Do you see the most common thread? Not time or immediacy (live feed and synchronicity hype to the contrary) but sharing. If we don't share, it's not communication. Dissemination, exchange, collaboration. If there is no exchange or dialogue it is not interactive.

Let's examine the list for familiarity levels: know about, consume, distribute or exchange, aggregate or collect to share, create. They won't be the same for each. Classification would be another category ~ not just how but where or in which networks do we use them? Bloom's Taxonomy comes to mind.

Another consideration: which applications will we use, find most useful? Realistically, we won't use all of them, but there is no way to know without test driving them. Another workshop goal is to learn more about familiar applications... not to mention that app we installed but have not gotten around to using enough to become more than superficially familiar with it.

I'm going to manage overload by not expecting to do everything and letting myself go off on tangents that catch my fancy ~ an distinct advantage to being more or less retired. As an aside, I am also looking at and weighing these applications from the perspective of networks and computer networking in other contexts: local community and action networks.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

How Do Students Feel About Using Computers To Help Learn English?

This informal classroom survey was directed to ESL learners in US secondary schools. Would online international, adult learners studying in an online class or on their own respond the same?

via Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day... by Larry Ferlazzo on 1/6/10

Results From My Year-Long U.S. History Tech Experiment is where I shared the assessment results and my reflections from teaching two U.S. History classes — one entirely in the computer lab and one in my classroom with my typical curriculum.

Results From Student Evaluation Of My Class And Me (Part Two)
Now, getting back to this week — here's a copy of the survey students completed.

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