Reading blogs is an easy way to "tap into" others knowledge and share what you know. This process-–known as legitimate peripheral participation (LPP)—moves the newcomer deeper into a community of practice leading them closer to acquiring the knowledge and skills required to be an expert.
If you're not already reading Teacher Hacks, why not start?
The use of current and emerging
social media technology is clearly moving us in the education community
closer towards Tim Berners-Lee’s ideal of using the web as "an information
space through which people can communicate…by sharing their knowledge in a
In this world of increased web-based social interaction, meeting the unique needs
of Gen Y learning styles is the bottom line. In the 21 Century classroom, the ‘always
on,’ student will control the how, what, and when a task is completed.
Gen Y students
expect interactive, engaging content and course material that motivates them to
learn through challenging pedagogy, conceptual review, and learning style
This approach offers Gen Y learners flexible, self-paced, customizable content available on-demand (via RSS feeds or Pipes).
engaging content motivates students to learn through the course materials and
apply them according to their own intrinsic needs and learning goals.
However, educators should be careful not to use social networking for the sake of using social media, rather they should keep in mind how the use of any type of technology element can support student learning--individually and as a
Social media engages the user in the content and allows them to be included as an active participant
as they construct a learning landscape rooted in social interaction, knowledge exchange, and optimum cognitive development with their peers.
This is a fantastic tutorial on using del.icio.us in the classroom! Social bookmarking tools like del.icio.us are a great and easy way to find those hidden threads of community knowledge. Give it a try--soon you'll wonder how you lived on the web with out it!
mynoteIT is an extremely powerful social search utility for students. Since mynoteIT is web-based, you can store all your class notes and other information in one place, and access it anywhere in the world instantly. It's like del.ic.ious for your notes.
One of the coolest features of mynoteIT are the Workspace Utilities which "allow you to lookup the definition of a word, and translate words or sentences between languages, all in real-time while taking or editing notes." How slick is that? And a time saver too!
mynoteIT also provides a way for students to search and share your notes with friends and/or other members of their collegiate community. You can e-mail your notes, send them through mynoteIT, or use an unique URL link to your notes. Some other cool mynoteIT features include:
Upcoming assignment reminder
Track comments on notes
Make notes private or public
All in all mynoteIT is a fantastic new social search learning tool and one that I'm sure a lot of students--both in high school and college--will be taking advantage of this school year. It would be great to see mynoteIT's social notetaking application mashed-up with a student social networking site like Facebook, Univillage , or StudentFace.
It's important to note (no pun intended) that mynoteIT is still in beta and is subject to tweaks, bugs, and changes. It looks like the mynoteIT team and their social notetaking service is off to a fast start, and undoubtedly will find many friends and admirers in the education community.
Rich Site Summary (RSS) technology is an XML based format that provides the backbone for the distribution of weblog, podcasting, and other content.
RSS allows users to easily syndicate or publish their content for use by others. And conversely, it provides a way for users to easily subscribe and read content (blogs, podcasts, news, photos) published by other people or organizations.
And these days, most social media applications provide users with an RSS feed to publish their content on the web. This includes most blogging, podcasting, social bookmarking, and photo sharing social networks and communities.
After a user subscribes to a RSS feed, the content (blogs, websites, online community groups) automatically updates and is displayed in a RSS feed reader. There are several free news readers (also called aggregator) available, including Bloglines, My Yahoo!, and Rojo. The new Yahoo! Mail allows you to read RSS feeds right in your Yahoo! mailbox.
How do I use RSS to support instruction?
A key benefit is the users ability to pick and choose (subscribe) to a particular RSS feed and then have the content updated in real time. In this manner, RSS is an important educational media tool to facilitate and support the “always on” learning styles of millennials.
RSS readers allow students to self-publish and share their content feed with members of their learning community. The use of RSS further supports millennial learning styles by allowing the user to select which content is relevant and then have it delivered directly to them for "on demand" viewing at their convenience.
As an assessment tool, RSS feeds provide teachers with several benefits. For example, instructors can subscribe to each students RSS feed and have their homework delivered directly into their aggregator, saving them the time consuming task of entering each student’s URL in order to view their e-portfolio or blog.
While some OU departments are already using RSS technology to distribute and share information, for the most part the academic ecosystem at OU hasn't readily embraced RSS, blogs or other types of social media.
At the core of her her modest proposal, Laura feels that "every college on campus should have a blog with an RSS feed. That way we could all subscribe to news and actually know what is going on here at OU, something more than just football. Personally, I think every tenured faculty member should be required to keep a blog..."
Amen Laura. I couldn't agree more!
So as a new school year begins to unfold, why not follow Laura's example and issue a modest RSS and blogging proposal to your community of practice?
If you haven't already, go ahead and set up a class blog and RSS feed. Then help others in your department or school do the same. It may not seem like much, but it's a start...
Most "Web 2.0" services provide users with the HTML snippet (sometimes called a badge) to embed content on another web site or blog. This means there are endless possibilities for you to weave interaction and on-demand resources into your course.
How about using Slide to insert a slideshow in your course? Or embed a Google, YouTube, or SelfCast video into your curriculum. The human voice is a powerful teaching tool, so why not try using a YackPack audio group into your course?
Enough talk. Time to get down to business. Here's how you can add a HTML snippet into your Nuvvo course:
All you have to do is create a LearnPage (or EvalPage) and insert a Rich Text area. that will bring up a mini word processor into which you can directly insert HTML code. Look for the HTML button in the top right corner.
Easy peasy! So give it a try!
Thanks to John Green over at Nuvvo for the directions on how to integrate the HTML badges into course pages!
Released in beta last week,Rollyois
the latest product to venture into the burgeoning social software
marketplace. Rollyo allows users to create and share their own personal
In a nutshell, here's how Rollyo works:
Createa Rollyo "Search Roll" (this is Rollyo speak for "search tool").
Pick and add up to 25 website url's to your Search Roll.
Your customized search engine (powered byYahoo! Search) is ready to share (or mark private)!
Use your Search Roll to find targeted results, based on the URLS you listed.
this product was just hit the web, I haven't had time to really get a
feel for it, but so far it seems like their are a couple obvious ways
Rollyo can be used as aconstructivist-basedlearning tool.
can use Rollyo to create and populate a Search Roll with websites that
are relevant to course content and then place a Rollyo Search Box on
the course blog, or website. Or if the teacher is using a LMS or LCMS
such asMoodleorTapped-In, they can add a link to their course Search Roll.
can create topic-based Search Roll(s) and then utilize the search
results in research papers, group projects, or as reflective entries on
courseweblogs. In addition, students can share Search Rolls with theirlearning communities. Students can also venture outside their peer group andexplorethe larger Rollyo community for relevant Search Rolls.
also important to note that Rollyo Search Rolls can be marked "private"
or "public"--this is particularly important for student Search Rolls.
In addition, Rollyo users can add tags(keywords) to their Search Roll to make it easier for others in the community find your directory.
Rollyo, like other social search tools BlinkList and My Web2.0,
is still in beta and is subject to tweaks, bugs, and changes. But it
seems like the Rollyo team is off to a fast start, and undoubtedly will
find many friends and admirers in the education community.
this weblog essay Dr. Sinha, a cognitive psychologist by profession,
outlines her hypothesis on the cognitive process that takes place when
users tag an item, and how tagging differs from categorization.
Today I was looking at the public MyWeb 2.0 pages, and discovered this very good article covering web usability/accessibilty design issues for users with learning disabilities.
via Juicy Studio:
"When people think about accessibility of web content, there's a
tendency to concentrate on people with visual impairments. People with
cognitive impairments and learning difficulties are often overlooked.
article by Roger Hudson, Russ Weakley, and Peter Firminger, examines
the types of problems visitors may encounter when using the web, with
insightful and practical suggestions on how to develop websites that
are inclusive for people with cognitive impairments and learning
agree with the authors that this is an area that online educators and
course designers often overlook. Hopefully this article will serve as a
reminder make sure online course designers take the needs of learners
with cognitive imparments and other learning difficulties into
consideration as they design e-learning websites.
developed by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard
Law School, are more than just a cool, sleek technology -- they
represent a new way of thinking about education online.
Playlist is a series of links to books, articles, and other materials
that collectively explore an idea or set the stage for a course,
discussion, or current event." (via)
There is a great article
in the current edition of the MIT Technology Review about burgeoning
social web technologies, and how people are increasingly using chat
rooms, blogs, and wiki’s to collaborate.
connectivity of the Internet has changed what it means to participate
in a conference, classroom, or any other social gathering. This article
is very timely given the big buzz about social software and bookmarking.
Yahoo! Audio Search (YAS) is a new Yahoo!
product that allows users to scour the web for a myriad of audio files
including: music, podcasts, speeches, e-books, and interviews. Y! Audio
Search also displays related content such as video, websites, Wikipedia
pages, and images.
These constructivist-based design elements allow
users to both discover new content as well as self-regulate their
experience based on their own intrinsic needs and interests.
For example, a student who enters a query for “Neil Armstrong” will also have the video version
of the Moon Landing listed in their search results. This way, if a
student is a visual learner they can utilize the media that best suits
their learning style.
This is a nice integration of Yahoo services and
one that makes the student user experience, not only easier, but also
In addition, web-based audio content can be easily saved to My Web 2.0
with a just click of a link on the results page.
Once audio files have
been saved to My Web 2, you can add tags, share your audio files, and
organize your content. Members in a “My Community” group can then
search their community knowledge pool adding yet another layer of relevance to the social bookmarking space.
Y! Audio Search Curriculum Ideas
can create original audio content (such as lectures) and then upload
them to Y! Audio Search for download by students onto their computer or
mp3 player. In addition, teachers can link to the audio content (or “podcast”) from their web-based course syllabus, web-based group, weblog, Flickr group, or wiki.
Learning communities that have formed a Flickr group
can link relevant audio files to the pictures in their group photo
pool. For example, an American Studies teacher with a series of Mississippi River photos can post an audio link in a Flickr discussion thread to a dramatic reading from Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.
Or a history teacher can start a discussion thread in a Flickr group about the Civil War, providing a link to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in her pool of Gettysburg photographs. This application provides both audio and visual elements, thereby appealing to the differing and multiple learning styles of students.
In all of the aforementioned examples, teachers are doing more than combining different types of media to support student learning.
They are also providing “on demand” learning opportunities designed to
meet the “always on” learning styles of today’s students.
Listening to content in its original context is also an effective situated learning
tool that provides an avenue for students to actively participate in
their learning. Instead of reading about Albert Einstein’s scientific
contributions in a textbook, students can use Y! Audio Search to
actually hear Einstein himself explain his Theory of Relativity.
Moreover, having students listen to period news reports about the fiery crash of the Hindenburg, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Robert F. Kennedy’s news conference announcing the assassination of Martin Luther King, or Eleanor Roosevelt’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights speech helps them make emotional connections to shared cultural experiences.
Search also has the potential to provide educational resources for
teachers in underserved areas by providing them access to low (or no)
cost audio content they can integrate into their curriculum. For
example, teachers could burn multiple audio (mp3) files onto a CD-ROM
and then distribute audio ‘resource discs’ to students.
Audio Search provides students with an opportunity to research, replay,
and reflect on their own learning experience.
More importantly, as
students incorporate different types of social media into their
collaborative project-based learning activities, they develop the
critical problem solving, web, knowledge management, and technology skills they will need to succeed in the 21st Century.
in that regard, Y! Audio Search is an important milestone in the
evolution of online learning, social software, and self-publishing on
Do you need to create a technical help sheet or “how to” guide? Here’s an idea that provides an avenue for users with multiple learning styles to utilize two social software programs-- Flickr and BlinkList--to meet their learning or training needs.
The Flickr Part: Use Flickr to create a (private) group, and then place a series of instructional screenshots
in your group pool to assist users learn a new software program (for
example Dreamweaver MX). Members of your group can use the Flickr group
threads to discuss the configuration process, troubleshoot, and leave
tips for others.
The BlinkList Part: Tag Dreamweaver MX articles and/or other web-based resources with a specific BlinkList tag, which now becomes an URL of resources related to that software (in this case Dreamweaver MX).
The Social Part: Now
post the tag link in your Flickr group and the BlinkList tag list
becomes a specialized, organic, shared knowledge pool--a vital
component for any online community of practice. Members of the learning community can also search the global BlinkList community tags for additional resources.
The Learning Part: What
you have created is an (online) community that is able to draw from
multiple social web resources to meet a learner’s intrinsic needs,
while still providing opportunities to participate with their peers in a collaborative, social exchange
of information. In a variation, you could use both ideas and link to
Flickr and BlinkList from a course webpage, weblog, or learning
management system (LMS).
The passionate crew over at MindValley have joined the social software party with a new web-based rapid bookmarking and knowledge-sharing tool named BlinkList.
A curious name that accurately describes how quickly and easily you can
manage, add, share, tag, or syndicate your links in—well…in the blink of an eye!
BlinkList, like other social bookmarking applications, is based on social networking, tags, folksonomies,
and collaborative knowledge sharing. As BlinkList users search the web
they can easily save their web searches, tag them with keywords and/or
descriptions, and then depending on whether they have marked the links
private or public, share their cache of knowledge with the BlinkList
stated, MindValley recognizes that online community hinges on the users
ability to easily access their information without frustrating them to
the point they won’t use the software (a point which
Rooted in constructivist theory, BlinkList is designed to act as a facilitator, providing users with the tools to chunk, scaffold,
and organize knowledge in a format that best suits them. In a nutshell,
BlinkList opens the path to knowledge instead of being a digital
pothole on the e-learning super information highway.
Here are just a few of the unique features in BlinkList (with just a twist of learning theory thrown in for good measure!):
you store and tag more content, it becomes more and more difficult to
remember what tag you used for similar content. But don’t fret!
MindValley Labs has come up with a slick way to help you to maintain
Here’s how it works: as you add links and other content to your cache BlinkList auto-magically suggests
tags you have already used. This simple step makes it easier to find
content at a later date, prevents user frustration with the technology,
and allows students to focus on their learning.
Ready for another neat techno-constructivist
BlinkList feature? When you click on a tag, BlinkList shows related
tags, thereby allowing users to easily find topics and resources
related to their search. But wait. There’s more! By using the tag filter you
can drill down even deeper into the BlinkList community knowledge
reserves to locate the resources most relevant to your particular needs.
allows users to make notes before they save their links to a list. This
feature could be especially useful for a collaborative project wherein
groups conduct research on the web, saving, tagging, and organizing
their content in a BlinkList, and then adding annotations in the link
process of collecting research and creating the annotation not only
develops writing skills, but also provides the teacher with an
opportunity to assess the learner’s level of understanding, and review
content with their students.
As neo-millennial, and Generation C students begin to flood classrooms, they will expect activities that allow them to pick and choose multiple types of social media (blogs, wiki, gaming, social bookmarking) to support their digital learning styles. Recent studies
in online course design have shown that the integration of web-based
communities and collaborative assignments into the course design has a
positive influence on learning and student retention.
Save Research in a Blink
you ever done research on the web, saved a bunch of links in IE
Explorer “Favorites” folders, and then had a heck of a time finding
them again? Well, BlinkList simplifies the whole process and lets you
focus on your needs instead of spending time scanning those IE folders
looking for your content.
By simply (there’s that word again!)
adding a tag or two, you have created a list that can be accessed at a
later date. Since each tag has its own URL, you can link from your
blog, course syllabus, research paper, or even Flickr
account to that specific tag list. Now you have a powerful cache of
resources that work in tandem with your other social media tools.
Not easy enough? After you save a site, just click the star icon and
the link will be added to your Favorites list in the tag manager (hold
on, that’s up next!), and highlighted with a bright yellow star!
The MindValley crew has taken in consideration that end users have differing ways of understanding (multiple intelligences) and organizing information. The ingenious Tag Manager provides users with multiple ways to organize and view their BlinkList.
But who decides which tags to use? BlinkList? No. You!
BlinkList folks describe tags as “multiple mental notes that might make
sense, depending on what it is that you are saving.” Since only you
know what tags will help you find your data, you get to decide how to
label and organize your content. BlinkList will auto-suggest tags, but
ultimately the user (that’s you!) has the final word. In effect,
BlinkList starts thinking like you do, making it easier for you to
locate your links when you need them!
The BlinkList Tag Manager
sorts your links in three categories: Favorites, Most Popular, and Most
recent. As you build up a cache of links, Blink List puts your most
used tags in a little pile—they call this a tag cloud. As you
begin to use your tags, the tag cloud begins to change. Larger font,
gradient bolding, and different colors--all to help you quickly scan the tag cloud for your most used tags.
The Social Web
click on a tag from the community tag cloud or a quick tag search
allows you to find others who share common interests. You can then see
what resources they are sharing with the BlinkList community and add
the ones you find most relevant to your BlinkList. And vice-versa.
Because BlinkList is a web-based tool, you can access your links and
those of others in the BlinkList community from any web-enabled
computer or mobile device.
Just a simple click of the "BlinkRSS"
button allows users syndicate tag content to a classroom blog, student
portfolio, school website, aggregator--or any other site for that matter! BlinkList even provides the HTML snippet for you to pop into your website.
MindValley vs. The Giants
MindValley folks are clearly on the verge of something big with
BlinkList. To be fair, it’s still in an early beta stage and will
require some tweaks. Moreover, at this point, all of the social
interchange is asynchronous. It would be nice to see BlinkList
integrated with some “real time” synchronous capabilities.
while they are more than aware of the fight ahead of them, their
infectious enthusiasm (in conjunction with their terrific product) is
sure to propel them to the front of the pack. By now it should be clear
that BlinkList is so feature rich (the “scary” part is that they’re
just getting warmed up!), and full of possibilities they can’t all be
discussed in one post.
Tag! You’re It!
MindValley has created an impressive product with so many applications that learning communities--from grade school to corporate training—will be looking for ways to integrate BlinkList into their curriculum.
For the last several months there’s been a lot of buzz about a renaissance on the web. And with the arrival of BlinkList, the optimistic, passionate team over at MindValley seems to be shouting, “Enough talk, let’s get this party started!”